Everything You Need to Know About Crutches


Do you need crutches? Before you invest in the first pair you find, take a look at what you need to know about your options, fit, adjustments, and use.

The Types of Crutches

Like other types of medical equipment, crutches come with options. The specific crutches you choose depend on the physical issue or injury you need help with, its intended use, and your comfort level. While there are a variety of brands that manufacture crutches, you’ll find two primary designs—underarm and forearm.

As the name implies, underarm crutches fit under your arms and into the armpit area. These commonly used crutches are often adjustable and can help you to balance or walk after an injury. Forearm crutches are also exactly what the name sounds like. You can position these crutches on your forearms and grip them with your hands.

The Fit of Crutches

How should your crutches fit? The answer to this question depends on the type of crutches you choose. According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, the arm pads (of an underarm model) should sit between one-and-a-half and two inches under your armpit. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed when measuring this fit. At rest, your elbow should sit in a slightly bent position when holding the handgrip. However, when you take a step, you should have the ability to fully extend your arm.

Forearm crutches should fit with the arm cuff between one and one-and-a-half inches below the elbow, according to St. Jude’s Research Hospital. Like underarm crutches, your elbows will need to slightly bend when you hold the handgrips at rest.

Improper fit can result in nerve damage of the arms or hands, make it difficult to move easily, or put you at risk for a slip and fall injury. Before you use your new crutches, talk to your medical provider. The doctor or healthcare professional can make sure the crutches are the correct fit for your body.

The Adjustments and Crutches

It’s likely your doctor will recommend one specific type of crutch based on your physical needs, overall health, and mobility. Some underarm crutches are fixed — meaning you can’t adjust the arm pad or handgrip heights to match your body’s shape. This makes finding the just-right fit essential.

If your doctor recommends adjustable crutches, you may need to take a trial and error approach. Start with the general guidelines for arm pad and handgrip placement (such as two inches under your armpit). While this type of adjustment works for many people, it may feel awkward or uncomfortable for you. Your doctor, a nurse, a physical therapist, or another medical professional will watch you walk with the crutches and help you to choose the adjustments that are just right for your individual frame and needs.

The Use of Crutches

After you’ve chosen the type of crutches (underarm or forearm), the size, and made any necessary adjustments to get the right fit, it’s time to take the next step and — take steps. After your medical provider helps you with the fit, they can provide instructions for proper use. Like an improper fit, improper use can cause additional injuries or affect your mobility.

Underarm crutches require you to start in a tripod, or two crutch and one leg, position. You can then move the crutches forward, followed by your good (or unaffected) leg. If you need forearm crutches, you may need to use a one (alternating) or both at a time approach to walking. The specific method you use depends on whether you can bear weight one each foot and how much weight you can bear.

Are you searching for a medical supplier who carries crutches? Contact Corner Home Medical for more information.