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How to Choose The Right Cane if You Have Arthritis

senior man
What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs at night?

The answer to this Sphinx riddle is: Man – who crawls on fours as a baby, walks on two feet as an adult, and walks with a cane during old age.

One out of every five US adults has doctor-diagnosed arthritis, this according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As the US population grows, the number of those suffering from this disease will also grow. According to the CDC, the risk of developing arthritis increases with age. The number of adults with arthritis is expected to reach to 67 million by 2030, the CDC reported.

The term arthritis encompasses over 100 different rheumatic diseases, the most common of which is osteoarthritis. Common symptoms of arthritis include aching, pain, stiffness and swelling around the joints.

Physical Activity

Many believe that physical activity and arthritis do not go hand in hand. There is this misconception that physical activity while having arthritis will make symptoms worse, cause pain or damage joints.

“Not being physically active is bad for arthritis,” the CDC stresses.

The agency recommends that people with arthritis should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. The agency also recommends the maintenance of a healthy weight to protect the joints.


Physical activity can be enhanced even if one has arthritis. This assistive device enhances physical activity as it provides an extra point of support.

The ideal users of this device are those with moderate strength in the arms and hand; and can walk but balance is minimally impaired or one leg is weaker than the other;

In terms of materials, there is the traditional wooden cane and standard aluminum cane. When it comes to handle design, there is the shepherd’s crook handled cane. It also comes with different number of tips: single tip and four tips. The single tip weighs lighter than the one with quad tips. A study by Jeong et al. found that “single-point cane requires less oxygen use at a given speed, or permits greater speed for the same oxygen consumption.” The quad tips though provide more stability.

A study by Kemp et al. found that the “use of a cane resulted in significant decreases in the adduction moment.” The researchers recommend that patients with knee osteoarthritis should be encouraged to consider using a cane on a regular basis.

How to Use the Cane

  1. Hold the cane on the strong part of the body.
  2. Move the cane slightly forward.
  3. Put forward the weak leg, followed by the strong leg; and
  4. Repeat the process.

It is also important to properly fit the cane to the user’s build. Improper fitting can cause back, shoulder, elbow or wrist pain. To make sure that your cane is properly fitted, follow these steps:

-Wear your normal shoes.
-Ask someone to measure the distance from your wrist to the floor and adjust the cane’s length accordingly.
-The device is properly fitted if you get a 20-degree to 30-degree elbow bend when you use the cane.

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