Arm crutches are a type of mobility device that aims to reduce the amount of weight you put on your legs when you walk while helping to increase your stability and balance.
If a medical condition, an injury like a sprain or a surgical procedure requires you to keep your weight off a leg or foot, crutches may enable you to get around on your own power.
The two basic types of crutches available are the underarm crutch and the forearm crutch. Underarm or arm crutches are the most common type and are usually used on a short-term basis. The arm crutch fits under the armpit with your weight resting primarily on the handgrip. Forearm crutches are often used on a long-term basis; this crutch has a cuff that goes around the forearm.
When choosing crutches, keep in mind that having large tips at the base of each crutch adds stability. Also, always make sure the crutches you’re selecting have the weight bearing strength you need.
Arm crutches. Most wooden arm crutches are made of hardwood shafts; regularly spaced holes along the length of the crutch enable you to adjust the handles to suit your height.
Lighter than wood, metal versions of arm crutches are usually made from a single contoured tubular shaft. Height adjustments are done with push-button positioning.
When choosing an arm crutch, consider its total length and the height of the handle, to make sure it suits you comfortably. Crutches are sold in size ranges and can then be tailored to suit your exact height. The top bar of the arm crutch should lean on the chest wall and be about 2” below the shoulder joint. If the crutches are too long and the bar does not lean on the chest wall, there is the risk for damage to nerves and arteries in the armpit. If you have allergies or sensitivities, choose crutches with latex-free underarm pads and handgrips.
Fleece crutch covers add some additional cushioning and protect against soreness. After long-term use of crutches, you may need to get replacement underarm and handgrip pads to extend their life and comfort factor.
Forearm Crutches. A forearm crutch is typically made from an aluminum tube shaft with a molded handgrip and a forearm cuff that extends to about 2 inches below the elbow. The cuffs allow you to release your hands without having the crutches fall.
Both the leg and forearm pieces should be adjustable in length. Look for ergonomically contoured arm cuffs for better comfort and stability.