Home The Book Dr Articles Products Message Boards Journal Articles Search Our Surveys Surgery ESWT Dr Messages Find Good Drs video

Need Some Help On Using Crutches

Posted by Pat D on 11/22/03 at 18:53 (138394)

I have 5 weeks to go on crutches and I'm not doing so well. I've already taken a couple of slips and falls (one of which turned heel surgery into a broken heel. See 'Regretting heel surgery already.'.) I would appreciate any helpful hints on surviving from the people who have had to use these. I haven't ventured out of the house for 3 weeks but I'm going stir crazy just sitting around, and eventually I'm going to have to venture out.

Some examples of helpful hints I need:

-How do you properly adjust crutches for length? (I've gotten 3 different answers from 3 people who have never used crutches. Do they go under your armpits or several inches short.

-How do you keep them from rubbing you raw?

-How do you get up and down stairs that you can't sit on (like outdoor stairs) and how do you stand up on one foot at the top of the stairs?

-How do you carry things?

-Etc., Etc.

Tell me what you have learned that works. Thanks

Re: Need Some Help On Using Crutches

matts on 11/22/03 at 21:28 (138402)

Here is what I learned for me, I was on crutches for 6 weeks a couple of years ago for pf and tendonitis with a non weight bearing cast, and for 3 weeks last month for tendon repair surgery. They need to be a couple of inches away from armpit when standing straight up, crutch tips need to be close to feet as possible so crutches are straight up and down. With hands on grips the arm should be slightly bent so that weight is on hands when walking, you may need to adjust the grip height up. I think keeping crutches more up and down will help keep the pad from rubbing since it will not be pushing into your side.

On stairs, going up the good foot goes first, going down crutches go first, be careful, go slow, real slow, everyone is expecting that anyway. Stay straight up both directions but if stumble a little make sure it is toward the stairs.

As for carrying something, unless it will go in a bag, like a plastic grocery bag, with a thin handle, I never really figured out a way to do that!?!? Everytime i tried to carry something else I tripped or hurt my shoulder or hand. I even had to slide a drink of water all the way down the kitchen cabinet until i could reach the table then find a chair, this part was a real pain...

I hope this helps a little. And do not count the days!

Re: Need Some Help On Using Crutches

Lari S. on 11/23/03 at 10:23 (138459)

Those are great suggestions from Matt. My surgeon adjusted mine to 2 fingers away from the armpit with arms slightly bent after adjusting them from my height. I ended up using a fanny pack to carry smaller stuff at first and then a very small back pack after I got better on them, as well as the plastic grocery bag. I found the heels of my hands got sore and used heel-padded, fingerless gloves that I had from racket ball. Good luck.

Re: Need Some Help On Using Crutches

Melissa on 11/25/03 at 14:24 (138646)

I am enjoying reading these posts. I had TTS decompression on 11/12 and have been so frustrated with these crutches. I have fallen a few times at home. I have been having a problem with swelling as soon as I sit up to do anything. The swelling has been frustrating...any ideas or remedies or how long does it last?

Re: Need Some Help On Using Crutches

Dorothy on 11/25/03 at 14:54 (138652)

I am so sorry you are having these troubles. It seems an added insult that the tool that is supposed to be helping is actually adding to the difficulties. I wish I could help you. Can you get in touch with Physical Therapists or Occupational Therapists to get needed assistance with the crutches? Have you made your doctor's office aware of these problems?

I know this is not of any immediate help, but I will refer you to this book, if you can get your hands on it. It's called 'Getting Back on Your Feet, A Complete Guide to Using Crutches and Other Mobility Aids' by Sally R. Pryor. Its sub-title reads 'How to Recover Mobility and Fitness After Injury or Surgery to Your Foot, Leg, Hip, or Knee'. Various quotes and endorsements for it come from a variety of M.D.s at various medical centers. It says that the author, Sally Pryor, 'is a certified Emergency Medical Technician who runs calls for the local ambulance corps in Bedford Hills, NY. She is also certified as a wilderness EMT. Sally has had first-hand experience with 'crutching around' while recovering from five knee operations. She wrote this book out of a personal commitment to improving the quality of life for anyone coping with limited mobility.'

Testimonials for the book come from Norman Vincent Peale ('The Power of Positive Thinking', you know?) and, as I said, lots of M.D.s. I personally know nothing about it, having never used crutches - but having used a cane and walking stick and thanking God for their invention! This book came from a family member. It would be very hard for me to simply pass on the information because the entire book (over 200 pages) is devoted to the subject and is full of many illustrations. If you want to try to locate it from your library or a bookseller, the publisher is Chelsea Green Publishing Company, P.O. Box 130, Route 113; Post Mills, VT 05058-0130. Copyright 1991. ISBN #0-930031-38-5.

I hope you are feeling better soon.

Re: Need Some Help On Using Crutches

Rose on 11/25/03 at 15:29 (138666)

I was supposed to use crutches, but was way to unstable. I used a wheel chair and it was wonderful compared to crutches.

Re: Need Some Help On Using Crutches

Pat D on 11/25/03 at 16:51 (138693)


If the swelling is caused from the injury of the fall here is what I did:

Put ice on it for 48 hours. (Heat feels better, but don't start with heat, start with ice.) Put ice in a doulble plastic seal bag, or one of those bags that come from the grocery store. Don't put the ice bag on bare skin. Either wrap it in a towel or put it outside your clothes. After 48 hours start using a heating pad. If the pain continues, alternate between ice and the heating pad.

If you have to use pain killers, stay away from the ones the doctor prescribed. They will knock you out, and it's the last thing you need on crutches. Use an anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen during the day, and a pain killer like Tylenol PM at night to help you sleep. (The pain will seem worse at night because it's all you have to think about.)

I lost my balance at the top of a short set of stairs, fell backwards against the sharp corner of a wall and slid all the way down, banging my head on the floor. The next morning I couldn't even get out of bed or put on my (one) shoe. For several days I could not even use the crutches because my should hurt so badly. I could only sleep in one position at night. The ice and then the heat pad speeded up the recovery, I am sure.

See my 'Helpful Hints for Those on Crutches', that I put together from my own rough experiences.