Tuesday, February 21, 2012

When Should A Cane Be Used with RA?

In one of our on-line support groups we have been discussing when to use a cane or walker with RA.

After doing some research, I found an article that urges RA patients to use a cane as soon as standing up and walking becomes challenging. Canes may protect the joints, even before significant damage is evident. Using a can also helps relieve pain in the hips, knees, and ankles.

It is important that your cane be the correct height. If it is too short, you will be hunched over and if it is too tall, your shoulder will be hiked up. Either will cause unnecessary pain. 

To measure a cane, hold your arm straight. The handle of the cane should come to your wrist. When using the cane, your arm will be crooked at a 30 degree or less angle.


Also make sure the handle is comfortable. RA hands have special needs and the grip should not hurt when it is used every day. I have two canes. My first cane had a wooden handle and it hurt after a few hours of use. I now have a gel-handled cane and it is much more comfortable.

So why do we balk at using this assistive device? Is it because when we use a cane, our disabilities become more real, more visible? 

While it is difficult to take the next step and begin using a cane, it is important for those of us who suffer from RA to think about long-term consequences. Use of a cane provides stability and few falls and also helps prevent joint damage.



  1. http://www.everydayhealth.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/using-a-cane-for-rheumatoid-arthritis.aspx by Connie Brichford

5 comments:

  1. Marcia Goodman-BlairFebruary 21, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    This is good advice. I, for one, need a cane at times when my knees and hips act up and yet I am very reluctant to use it. I make up all kinds of excuses to myself why I don't need it. Right now it's sitting in my car. I drove to the pharmacy today, looked at my cane sitting there and went into the store without it. After about 2 minutes, I wished I had brought it in. Like so many other things in life, planning ahead is key.

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  2. Good article! That is what I had read too when I did a little research on whether to use one or not. I wasn't sure, and still make the excuse that I stay stronger if I don't use one. That's complete ego, and has no basis in fact, obviously.

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  3. This is a great read. I'm 27 and have had RA for a little while now and it is to the point where I finally traded my cosmetology license and dancing shoes for a cane and plenty of naps. Friends my age never really understood my pain and at first it was only in the mornings for a few hours. Then now its anytime I do anything for a long period like washing dishes etc. It got to the point where my hips hurt so bad by the end of the day I couldn't even stand. I picked up a cane and I move much more with it and I can keep up with my small children better. I don't worry about the looks or questions people ask because it helps. Some days I can't use it because the pain in my wrists or hands don't allow me but I notice a BIG difference and reading this article saying it can help prevent future damage makes me feel good about using it. Also keep up the posts I enjoy reading healthy tips and about other people with RA

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  4. This is really helpful. I'm 36 and newly diagnosed. I want a cane but worry about the stigma associated with it, especially at work. I'm also worried about how much it would hurt my hands/wrists while helping the pain I have in my ankles/feet/knees.

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  5. Linda ChristopherJuly 29, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    At age 68 this is great advice. At times I feel I need a cane but I don't have one because I didn't know how to purchase one. Thanks for this information on how to choose one,

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