January 21, 2018

Which side should you use your cane?

How should I use my cane?

Should I use my cane on my weaker side?

A big mistake that most people make is holding their cane in their dominant hand because it feels more natural and comfortable.  However, the cane should be used in the hand opposite of the weaker leg or affected limb.  For example, if you have had a right knee replacement, you should hold your cane in your left hand. This helps to provide a wider base of support while stepping with the affected limb.  Your base of support is the area between your feet.  For example, if you stand with your feet together it is a narrower base of support versus feet shoulder width apart, which is wider and more stable.  Adding a cane with ambulation makes your base of support in a triangle shape from the tip of the cane to both of your feet.  During ambulation, there are times where you are on one foot while you are swinging the other leg forwards for advancement.  As in the example above with a right knee replacement, cane placement in the left hand allows for a wider base of support and more stability while bearing weight on the right leg and advancing the left leg forwards.  If you draw a line between the tip of the cane to your right leg and comparatively do the same thing if holding the cane in the right hand it is easily demonstrated that the distance between the two points is much wider, make it more stable with cane placement on the opposite side of the affected limb.  During ambulation, the cane should be advanced forward at the same time as the affected limb.  Normal ambulation is demonstrated with reciprocal arm swing and that remains the same when using a cane.   Your physical therapist can assist you in proper gait training utilizing your cane to ensure safety and correct use.    

~H White

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