Dr. Ken Brummel-Smith: Hi! I'm Dr. Ken Brummel-Smith from the American Geriatrics Society. I'm here at Westminster Oaks and I'm going to be talking to you about how to choose and how to use a cane. There are different types of canes. You and the person who's fitting you for the cane can decide which type is best for you. The most common type of canes come in either one tip or four tips. Canes have to have a rubber tip on the end to provide greater balance and stability on almost all surfaces. Generally, choosing a grip is a matter of personal preference. If you have trouble grasping objects with your fingers because of arthritis or other joint pains you might prefer a cane that has a larger grip. Choosing the correct grip will relieve unnecessary stress on your joints and will help prevent joint deformities. Numbness or pain in your hands or fingers might signal that your cane's grip isn't a good fit for your hand. Your healthcare provider can help you in choosing the best grip for your particular situation. Your healthcare provider, physical therapist or trained medical equipments specialist should properly measure in size you for the cane you're going to use, and teach you how to walk with it.
Many people don't realize that an improperly fitting walking cane is just as bad for you as a pair of shoes that don't fit correctly. When you've measured for a cane, be sure to wear the kinds of shoes you wear everyday. When you're walking with a cane you hold your arm with a slight bend at the elbow. The healthcare provider will measure the distance from your wrist to the floor. Based on this measurement the cane will be adjusted to be the proper length for you. If your cane is too long you'll need to work harder to pick it up and move it, and it will be more difficult to control. If your cane is too short you might lean too far at one side which can throw you off balance. To walk with a cane you pick it up and move your cane in unison with the opposite leg. Don't place your cane too far ahead of you. If you use a cane for stability you might grip it in either hand whichever feels most comfortable. But if you have an injury or disability affecting your hip, knee or ankle, your healthcare provider might provide you with specific instructions on how to walk with a cane.