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.
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.
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.
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.
Is there something else that should be added to this list? Are you, or do you know an RA patient who walks with a cane? Share it with us on our Facebook page!
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