Crutch Or Cane? 7 Tips For Choosing The Right Mobility Aid

Updated on September 19, 2021

Whether you’re looking to recover from a temporary injury or are dealing with an illness that requires long-term assistance, choosing between crutches and canes as mobility aids will depend on several factors including your weight, the level of assistance needed, and personal preferences. 

Some people choose to use both types of devices for maximum mobility. Knowing more about each type of device will help you decide which one is best for you. If you need help with choosing mobility aids, this is the right article for you. 

Crutch Types And Use Tips 

Crutches come in two basic types: forearm (or underarm) and strap (or platform). 

  •  Forearm Crutches require good balance and coordination. These devices help support your full weight when you stand on them. It’s important to adjust their height correctly in order to maintain proper posture (chest thrust forward) and avoid falls. You can also use strap crutch-like devices onto your forearms for added support. 
  • Strap Crutches require less balance than forearm crutches but are more difficult to use correctly because they apply pressure to the underarms, which lead to pain or discomfort over time. However, this device does allow you to rest some of your weight on a seat as you go about your daily activities such as cooking meals or doing laundry. In addition, these devices work well for people who have hip, knee, or back problems. 

Cane Types And Use Tips 

A cane is a sticklike device with a T- or L-shaped handle you hold in your hand. They come in many forms and are used to provide support when walking. You can also use canes to pull items toward you when reaching is difficult due to arthritis, stroke, cerebral palsy, or other conditions affecting the upper body. 

Cane users should choose between an underarm version (with forearm crutch grips) or a platform style with two tips on the bottom that are about 6 inches apart, depending on their ability to balance while walking. The bottom of each cane tip should be placed directly in front of your foot (heel slightly raised), not alongside it unless you can’t place the cane tip directly in front of your feet. This alternating placement technique gives you better stability and allows you to feel subtle changes in terrain such as small bumps, paving seams, and differences in floor height. 

More Things To Know Before Making A Decision 

Your decision between choosing either a cane or a crutch should depend on what you’re looking for from a mobility device. Either one can be good for you if you choose the right one for your specific needs. Listed below were the difference between crutch and crane and what makes them potentially great choices: 

  1. Crutches Have A Smaller Base 

Crutches provide good support if you only need minimal assistance walking but they have a smaller base than canes do. This means that more weight and pressure are applied to your underarms. 

  1. Cane Tips Are Replaceable 

Cane tips can be replaced. If you fall or suspect that the cane is becoming unstable, you should replace the tip for maximum support and stability before it becomes a problem. Crutches have fixed tips, so you would need to buy a new crutch rather than just replacing the tips when they were damaged. 

  1. Canes Require Less Energy To Use Than Crutches 

Using canes requires less energy because even though there’s more surface area to balance on than with crutches, less pressure is being applied through your hands. The weight distribution makes canes easier to use than crutches. 

  1. Crutches Are One-Sided 

Crutches are one-sided while canes provide support on both sides of the body. If you experience more pain or discomfort when using a cane, switching to crutches is a viable option for assistance with walking. 

  1. Crutches Have More Mobility Than Canes 

Because crutches have a larger base than canes do, they’re easier to maneuver around tight corners. However, this also makes them more likely to tip over so if you have stairs in your house or go up inclines, using a cane would be better because of its smaller size. You will need more time to adjust when transitioning from one surface type to another but with practice, this becomes easier. 

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  1. Weight Matters When Choosing Cane Or Crutch 

The lighter your weight, the better cane support you’ll have. If you’re a larger individual or need assistance with more physical exertion such as walking uphill, choosing crutches over a cane would be a better option because of their added stability and support. 

  1. The Biggest Difference Between Crutches And Canes Is Height 

Crutches are designed to lift and hold your body in an upright position while canes help you maintain an angled body position for improved endurance and strength when walking. This means that if you use one every day, your muscles will become weaker in the other so it’s best practice to alternate between using each type of device on a daily basis. 

The Basics 

Crutches and canes are both mobility devices, but they aren’t the same. Canes are designed for walking support, also known as quad canes. They come in different heights so you need to determine which height is right for you when purchasing one. 

Crutches on the other hand are mainly designed to provide partial weight-bearing assistance while allowing the use of the upper extremities. Crutches don’t have adjustable height settings like canes do. So, approach your decision with clarity as to what device could potentially offer you great help.