Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Osteoarthritis Using a Cane

Some patients with osteoarthritis may benefit from the use of a cane.

You might benefit from a cane if you have difficulty walking due to hip, knee or leg pain. If you are elderly, a cane might allow you to perform normal activities without assistance.

Proper Cane Length
The handle of your cane should reach to the crease in your wrist when you stand upright and the end of the cane is resting on the floor.

Using a Cane
Hold the cane in the hand on the side opposite the leg that needs support. When you step on the bad leg, the cane should be on the ground at the same time. For example, if your left leg is painful or injured, you should use the cane with your right arm. When you step with your left leg, the cane in your right hand and your left leg should be on the ground at the same time.

Follow these steps:

  • Position your cane one small stride ahead and step forward onto the bad leg. Place weight on your bad leg and the arm that is supported by the cane. Your elbow should be slightly bent as you support your weight.
  • Step forward with the good leg.

Climbing Stairs with a Cane
Climb one stair at a time and rest on one step before moving to the next step.

Follow these steps:
  • Grasp the handrail with the hand that is on the same side as the bad leg.
  • Place your weight on the bad leg and on the arm that is supported by the cane.
  • Step up to the next step with your good leg.
  • Transfer your weight to the good leg.
  • Move the cane and the bad leg to the step where you placed the good leg.
  • Support and stabilize yourself with your legs, the cane, and the handrail before moving to the next step.

Going down Stairs with a Cane
Go down one stair at a time and rest on one step before moving to the next step.

Follow these steps:
  • Grasp the handrail with the hand that is on the same side as the bad leg.
  • Place your weight on the good leg.
  • Place your bad leg and the cane on the step below.
  • Transfer your weight to the bad leg and the arm supported by the cane.
  • Move the stable leg to the step where you placed the cane and the bad leg.
  • Support and stabilize yourself with your legs, the cane, and the handrail before moving to the next step.

Continue to Osteoarthritis Using a Walker

Last Updated: Dec 22, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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