GRANTED, on a site specializing in braces, you may not think of finding walking canes. However, it IS an aid to either help you through a temporary healing process, or assist those who have a long term walking condition.
You may also think that a cane is a cane is a cane. Not so these days! There are plenty of options (color, material, design, purposes), and I’ll get into them here. Take a look:
How Do I Know It’s Time to Use a Cane?
If you’re recovering from hip, leg, knee, or foot surgery or injury, or the onset of a chronic illness/dis-ease, these are obvious times.
But what about aging and the associated deterioration of joints and muscle that create instability?
An easy way to determine the answer in this scenario is to ask yourself one question – “Will a cane make my life and daily activities safer?” If you hear yes, well – there’s your answer! If you feel unstable while walking, negotiating steps, or always looking for something to hold onto for more steady support – the extra help of a walking cane is what you’re looking for. It will take pain and pressure off that aching joint while walking, give you more security of balance, and lessen the fear of collapsing due to inability of weight bearing on a compromised leg, hip, knee, or foot.
** However, please don’t opt for a walking cane when a better choice would be crutches. Crutches are meant to completely eliminate any weight bearing on your leg or foot. Trying to do this same thing with a cane, will be far more unstable and create a safety hazard, since you will be more likely to topple over. Plus this would put an undue amount of stress on your wrist.
According to the US FDA: “a cane is a device intended for medical purposes, that is used to provide minimal weight support while walking.”
Which Type is Right For Me?
There are multiple types of walking canes available, so which one do you choose? Let’s look at options:
- The standard single point “tourist handle” wood cane – this is the most common style and can have the most options. However, it must be made to the proper height for you as it is not adjustable. It can be made of materials other than wood
*wood – most color, handle, and design options. Some can be carved with intricate designs, and use exotic woods for a very unique and custom look
*aluminum – lightweight (allows for length adjustability)
*carbon fibre – lightweight and stronger than aluminum, yet more costly (also can be adjusted for length)
- Quad walking cane – if you need the most stability and sure-footed support, this would be your best choice. This one has 4 feet vs a single contact point, and is made of aluminum, so even though it has more bulk than the standard walking cane, it will still be lightweight. They are typically adjustable in height, and have an offset handle. An added built-in bonus is that they will stand up on their own and always be ready, and at hand, where and when you need it. The standard cane has a tendency to slide over sideways and fall on the floor when you set it aside.
- “Fritz” handle cane – here is a wooden cane designed by a German Count to be easier to use for arthritis sufferers. The comfortable grip handle has some stylish flare to it. Again, being made of wood, there is no height adjustment.
- Folding T-handle cane – just as the name implies,this one has a “T” shaped handle vs the typical rounded over “tourist” style, and it’s foldable – making it a nice choice when traveling by plane; it can be tucked away compactly in a carry-on bag. It is made of strong and lightweight aluminum, which can be raised or lowered to match your height requirements.
- Offset cane – the idea behind this style, is that with a bend at the top, it puts your weight bearing directly in line with the shaft, and you can lean on it more effectively than the “tourist handle” type. Most often, you find this made of aluminum, and thus it will also be adjustable in height. As shown in the picture, many of these come with a strap attached so that when needed, the hand is free to use without losing the cane.
- Sit-to-Stand Quad Cane – this is probable the most versatile and unique design. It has a 4-footed (quad) base, and a couple offsets. The first offset is at a height that can be used as an aid to go from sitting to standing. The second offset is at the top to distribute your weight directly down the shaft to the quad feet. It is made of aluminum and is adjustable.
- “Hurrycane” –
this is a relatively new design that utilizes the concept of 3 contact points with the capability of pivoting. This provides more of a sure grip on rough or uneven surfaces. They are made of aluminum and have easy push button height adjustment. This even folds down to 1/3 of its full size, making it very compact to store away when the need arises. As shown, it has a “T” handle and is available in 3 colors.
- 2-in-1 Walking cane/Seat – another versatile design, this one transforms into a tripod seat. Very convenient if you become tired and need a place to sit and rest where this isn’t a chair handy. Made of aluminum and has height adjustment capabilities, with an offset handle.
- Arm support walking stick – incorporates the forearm for added support, and making it more like a crutch than a cane, you gain more stability and weight bearing capabilities. Made of aluminum with a padded area for the forearm, and also height adjustable.
These are the walking canes available through standard manufacturers. With all these options available to you, it’s best to first decide on your specific need. Do you require full, stable support? If so, the quad style will be best. If that’s not your priority, then it can become a personal choice of cost, style, and/or strength.
What Length Do I Need?
With a slight, natural bend at the elbow, and your arm hanging down at your side, the top of the cane should be equal to the wrist joint. This should be easy to accomplish with an adjustable style walking cane, but if you have your eye on a non-adjustable type, this is crucial to take into account.
What About Strength?
If you are wondering about how much weight they can bear – most canes fall into the range of 200 – 500 pounds. When you make your final decision, read the specifications to make sure it will support your weight if that is a concern.
As you might imagine, there is a wide range here too. If you have very basic needs and taste, you can spend virtually very little. If you have more specific needs – the cost starts to go up. If you wish to make a statement with some flair – you can expect to part with a fair bit more.
In more concrete terms – in USD: about $10 to just under $100 from standard manufacturers. In GBP: those numbers convert to around £8 – £80.
You can have custom ones made that will be substantially more, but be aware that with the more decorative, custom, and elaborate handles, they can be just that – pretty to look and not all that practical from a comfort standpoint. If you don’t need a walking cane for support, but more for aesthetics, the sky’s the limit for fanciness. You can find some amazing handles that are works of art, but not meant to give you comfort for leaning on.
Have fun picking out the one that suits you, and if you have questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to leave them below. You can expect a prompt reply directly from me.
All the best,
Disclaimer: I am trained in a holistic modality, but not as a doctor, so this post or website should not be taken as medical advice. Please do your own research. Material on this blog is the result of either my own experience or research, and is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to your specific situation, and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.
Please use discernment in the consideration of purchasing any type of health related products via the internet. Educating yourself prior to buying is always suggested and recommended.