Crutches are one of the most common mobility aids used after an injury or surgery to the lower body. Used correctly, crutches can reduce the stress on a painful or injured joint or limb by transferring the weight normally placed on the injured area to the upper body. Crutches often require considerable body strength and good balance.
There are two main types of crutches -- underarm crutches (also called axillary crutches) and forearm crutches. Underarm crutches are more traditional and are used predominantly for ankle or knee injuries. Underarm crutches, if used correctly, are ideal for short durations (from a week to up to three months). Over long term use, underarm crutches can cause posture problems and sometimes pressure or nerve injury. Forearm crutches are rarely used in North America, but are preferred over underarm crutches in other parts of the world, such as the UK. Forearm crutches can be used in most cases instead of underarm crutches but, in particular, are very effective when both legs are need to be supported. Third third type of crutch is a walking knee crutch.
Things to consider when choosing crutches:
- does your doctor recommend forearm or underarm crutches
- for underarm crutches, there is an option for folding crutches
- ensure to get the proper size (1 1/2 to 2 inches below your armpit)
- do you need crutch padding on the underarm rest for comfort
- do you need any other crutch accessories, such as crutch tips or crutch grips