Experiencing some level of pain and discomfort from using crutches is fairly common. In fact, if you have to use crutches for any length of time, you should actually expect some discomfort. Fortunately, between using them correctly and adding cushions, there are several steps you can take to stop crutches from hurting your armpits and hands.
1. Make Sure Your Crutches are Sized Correctly
You should never assume that the crutches you have at home or the ones in your neighbor’s garage are going to fit right. More than likely, they will need adjusting or you’ll need a completely different size. As a general rule of thumb, crutches should hit your body approximately one to two inches below your armpit while the handles are at wrist or hip height. When using the crutches, there should be a slight bend in your elbows.
If your crutches are too tall for you, it will be difficult to walk and can lead to pain in your back, shoulders, armpits, or neck. If they are too short, on the other hand, it could cause you to lean forward and cause back, neck, or shoulder pain. Consulting with a physical therapist can help you be certain your crutches are at the proper height adjustment.
Looking for a set of adjustable crutches? Check out our Advanced Orthopaedics© Aluminum Adjustable Push-Button Crutches.
2. Learn How to Use Your Crutches Properly
One of the easiest ways to stop crutches from hurting your armpits is to learn how to use them correctly. Many people put the majority of their weight on their armpits when using crutches, but this puts far too much weight on the axillary nerve. In fact, long-term pressure on this nerve can even cause permanent nerve damage. If you’ve ever used crutches and have felt numbness or tingling in your arms, it’s likely that you’re using them incorrectly.
The right way to use crutches is to place most of your weight on your hands. Rather than resting your armpits on your crutches, keep your elbows slightly bent with your wrists straight. Let your hands, wrists, and arms do all of the work and support your weight. To move using the crutches, start by standing on your good leg, swinging both legs forward, and moving your crutches slightly ahead of you as you walk. You should also keep your knees slightly bent to help prevent excessive impact on the joints in your legs. By holding and walking with your crutches properly, they should stop hurting your armpits so much.
3. Add Cushions to Your Crutches to Stop Them From Hurting
Let’s face it – crutches, as they come, don’t offer much at all in the way of cushioning, so this is something you’ll have to take into your own hands. Even if your hands are bearing your weight, the minimal padding on crutches can rub and irritate your armpits. Fortunately, creating your own cushioning doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.
If you want to stop your crutches from hurting your armpits, find a couple of old towels (or any type of fabric) and some duct tape. Simply fold your towel or fabric so it is barely wider than the cushion on the crutch. Wrap the material around the top and secure it in place with duct tape. You’ll want to make sure your padding doesn’t move or shift around when you walk.
Even though armpits are usually the most painful part of crutches, your hands may become tired and sore, as well. If this happens to you, you can use the same technique described above to add padding to the crutch grips. This should make using your crutches a bit easier on your hands.
4. Consider an Alternative to Traditional Crutches
In the end, even if you’re doing all the right things, crutches can be pretty uncomfortable to use. If you simply can’t get crutches to work for you and know you’re going to need mobility assistance for a long time, you may look into some crutch alternatives. These include:
- Knee Scooters – if your injury is below your knee, you may consider a knee scooter. These devices allow you to steer with your hands while resting your injured leg on the scooter at the knee. One downside to this is that knee scooters are difficult to maneuver on uneven surfaces or stairs.
- Hands-free crutches – these are similar to knee scooters as they are used for people with injuries below the knee. Hands-free crutches are also referred to as “peg-leg” crutches because they don’t involve your hands – only a device that connects to your knee.
- Wheelchairs – wheelchairs will keep you completely off your feet, allowing for optimal comfort. However, you’ll need to make sure that anywhere you go is accessible by wheelchair, otherwise, using this type of device may be more difficult than it is worth.
Find the Right Mobility Device at Kelmedix
Sizing, using, and cushioning your crutches properly can help them stop hurting your armpits and hands. However, another thing you can do is to make sure to take time off your feet entirely and allow yourself to rest.
Whether you’re looking for crutches or other types of mobility devices, we’ve got you covered. Head on over to our online medical supplies store right now.