Rheumatoid Arthritis & Walking Canes

Rheumatoid arthritis, along with other ailments like multiple sclerosis, often leaves the sufferer in need of a walking cane. In this short piece, we’ll cover some of the elements an RA patient should consider when choosing a walking cane.

No matter what you read online, though, it is absolutely imperative that you speak with your doctor before making your final decision. No information you find online, not here or anywhere else, can replace or override the advice of a trained medical professional who is familiar with your needs and condition.

First, when looking at a walking cane for rheumatoid arthritis, you should consider how much weight you need to support. Some sources claim that a simple, straight-shafted walking cane should only be used to support one quarter (25%) of your body weight or less. We tend to agree, and you should never take chances when using a mobility aid. If you need more support than that, consider using a quad cane, or even look into a walker or forearm crutches if they are more comfortable options for you.

Choosing the Right Cane for Arhtritis

Palm-grip handles are specially made to match the contours of your palm

Second, the grip of your walking cane is imperative to your condition. As your ailment continues to change, whether it progresses or regresses, the needs of your handle and grip might change. Dont be afraid to question whether your current cane handle is the right one for you, and always be prepared to try something new. We have a short guide to cane handles in a previous blog post, you may want to start there to see some examples and again, ask your doctor what he/she thinks about the different styles.

Cane Tips for Arhtritis Patients

The tip, or ferrule of a walking cane is an extremely important part of your decision. We prefer rubber cane tips because of their ability to grip pavement and stay stable on turf, but you may want to look for what is best for your situation. Perhaps you would like the added stability of a extra large cane tip, and we’ve even seen those who prefer a specialized one made with a felt tip.

Felt provides less traction, so is less stable, but it is an option. Again, ask your doctor. You should also be prepared for inclimate weather. Perhaps specialized snow gear is something you should have if you live where snow and ice are an issue in the winters.

Cane Height and Sizing

Finally, be aware of the height of your cane. Although it may seem tempting to stop at a thrift store and pick up an old, weathered one sitting in an umbrella stand near the door, you would be best off with a new piece that is cut to fit your height. Our site has a guide on sizing your walking cane, but as a general rule, the top of your cane should come up to the bend in your wrist when you are standing as straight as possible and your arms are resting comfortably at your side. An improperly sized walking cane can cause you to slouch (if it is too short) or lean to one side (if your cane is too tall) and distribute your weight in an odd pattern across your knees, waist, back and shoulders. All patients of rheumatoid arthritis should understand the terrible consequences that could have on your condition.

Above all else, as we have reiterated again and again, you should never do anything that is contrary to the advice of your doctor, physical therapist or other medical professional. It could have severe consequences on your health, and potentially ruin any progress you and your doctors have made. In the end, the choice is up to you and your doctors.

Walk on!

FAQs for Using a Cane With Arthritis

1. What is the best cane grip for arthritis patients?

The best type of cane grip for arthritis patients really depends on what makes you most comfortable, since everyone’s condition is different. It will depend on how you hold the cane, where you place your weight, and what feels good in your hand. But some common cane grips that are good for arthritis users is the Fritz handle cane. Another option is the Palm Grip cane, designed for more stability and even distribution of weight across your palm.

2. What’s the best cane tip for arthritis users?

Cane tips provide traction, so the best tip for arthritis users is the one that adds the most stability and prevents slips. A rubberized cane tip is best in most cases. For added stability try a quad cane tip. See more cane tips here.

3. How to choose the best cane for knee or hip arthritis?

If you suffer arthritis of the knee or hip, choosing a cane can help assist in walking and may even reduce pain. But the right cane for hip and knee arthritis also depends on the user. Some good options to start with include the quad canes, since it is stable, allows plenty of weight distribution, and is still fairly mobile. Classic Fritz and Palm grip canes are also a good option. It is also a good idea to try aluminum canes since they can be lighter than solid wood canes.

4. Is a crooked or straight knob the best choice?

The best cane knob for arthritis users really depends on comfort as well. Knob canes fit comfortably in your palm and all the weight is transferred to the middle of the hand. A straight knobbed cane might feel better in your hand than a crooked knob cane. However, you should try them both to see which suits you best.

While the curve in the crooked knob style may fit your hand better, be aware that offest handles or more traditional options will usually distribute more weight and be more comfortable for longer uses.

5. Is a cane helpful for elderly or seniors with different types of knee, hand and hip arthritis?

Canes may help seniors and elderly people with types of arthritis like patellofemoral or other knee, hip and even hand arthritis. Canes alleviate weight on the joints to decrease pressure on that joint. They are also designed with softer grips that might be comfortable enough for seniors with hand arthritis to use.

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