WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Crutches are tools that provide support and balance when you walk. You may need 1 or 2 crutches to help support your body weight. You may need crutches if you had surgery or an injury that affects your ability to walk.
Use crutches safely:
- Support your weight with your arms and hands. Do not support your weight with your armpits. This could hurt the nerves that are in your underarms. Your elbow should be bent when the crutch is in place under your arm.
- Walk slowly and carefully with crutches. Go up and down stairs and ramps slowly, and stop to rest when you feel tired. Get up slowly to a sitting or standing position. This will help prevent dizziness and fainting. Use your crutches only on firm ground. Use caution when you walk on ice or snow. Wet or waxed floors and smooth cement floors can be slippery. Watch out for small rugs or cords.
Walk with crutches:
- Place both crutches in front of you in a position that is comfortable.
- Lean on your hands and not your underarms. The top of the crutches should be about 2 fingers side-by-side (about 1½ inches) below your underarm.
- Keep your elbows bent as you use the crutches. If you have one leg that is injured, keep it off the floor by bending your knee.
- Take a step with your crutches. Swing the foot that is uninjured between the crutches, placing that heel down first.
- If you are using your crutches for balance, move your right foot and left crutch forward. Then move your left foot and right crutch forward. Keep walking this way.
Go up stairs with crutches:
- Face the stairs. Put the crutches close to the first step.
- Push on the crutches with your elbows straight and put your uninjured leg on the first step.
- Put your weight on your uninjured leg that is on the first step. Bring both crutches and the injured leg onto the step at the same time.
- When holding on to a railing, put both crutches under the other arm. Use the railing to help you go up stairs.
Go down stairs with crutches:
- Stand with the toes of your uninjured leg close to the edge of the step.
- Bend the knee of your uninjured leg. Slowly lower both crutches along with the injured leg onto the next step.
- Lean on your crutches. Slowly lower your uninjured leg onto the same step.
- Place both crutches under the other arm when using a railing.
Sit in a chair with crutches:
- Turn and back up to the chair until you feel the edge of it against the back of your legs. Keep your injured leg forward.
- Take your crutches out from under your arms. Sit while bending your uninjured knee.
Get up from a chair with crutches:
- Sit on the edge of your chair. Put your uninjured foot close to the chair.
- Push up with your hands using the crutches or arms of the chair. Put your weight on your uninjured foot as you get up.
- Keep your injured leg bent at the knee and off the floor.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You have questions about how to use your crutches.
- Your crutches do not fit.
- One crutch is longer or shorter than the other.
- Your crutches break or get lost.
- The rubber tips of your crutches are split or loose.
- You get blisters or painful calluses on your hands or armpits.
- Your armpit is red, sore, or has bumps or pimples.
- Your arm muscles get weaker the longer you use the crutches.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have sudden numbness in a hand or arm.
- Your fingers feel cold or have cramping pain.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
Learn more about Crutch Instructions (Aftercare Instructions)
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