Do you use mobility aids e.g. walking sticks?

If you do, do you find they cause problems for your other joints? Also, what are you reasons for it e.g. is it for balance or pain relief or something else?

I am affected badly in my feet, ankles and hips - I use 1 or 2 crutches (depending on the day) to get around but my shoulder (it has RA but not as badly as other joints) is really struggling and when my hands/wrists are swollen, it's a nightmare to move at all. OT gave me ergonomic crutches but still, it's not easy using crutches with RA in your hands and wrists - as I'm sure many of you will attest to! I use crutches because I cannot get the swing in my hips and I wobble, so have had a few falls, also I just cannot get the movement to get one foot in front of the other without them (although this is on a bad day).

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10 Replies

  • Hi

    I use a walking stick, when I intend to do alot of walking & when I'm in pain. My RA tends to affect my right side of my body as that is my predominate side more. I generally use my walking stick as it's my right knee that tends to hurt for support. Other wise, I get hip pain due to putting all my weight onto the left side. My stick is also ergonomic. I can also use it when my my right wrist is bad, even with splint on. I don't find that I get additional joint problems from using the stick. I did get physiotherapy to check the height of the stick, was adjusted to my height properly.

    If you are experiencing additional joint pain while using your crutch, perhaps it not adjusted properly or it's not the appropriate device for you at the present time.

    Have a look on the disable equipment catalogues, you may find something more suitable.

    Good luck

    Sci x

  • Yes, I use crutches now. Have tried a stick, and did have a zimmer frame for a while.

    The really important thing though is to get physio advice on what sort of walking aid you should be using, and then get their instruction on how to use it properly. Keep on reporting back if you have difficulty and ask them to suggest something else. Otherwise, as you have found out, it can just cause you more problems.

    You can get crutches that are easier to hold with RA hands (including the ones where your elbow is at right angles). You can also try out nicer ones at disability aid shops and see if they are better than the NHS ones. I couldn't get on with the NHS ones at all, and ended up buying Kowski crutches (with anatomic soft grips), but I still had instruction on how to use them properly - which wasn't the way I would have if I'd just got on with it myself. You could also ask about the 3 or four wheeled walkers that are much higher than the usual and allow you to rest your forearms on them. They put a lot less stress on your upper body.

  • I use crutches mostly and a walking stick in the house, I also use a wheelchair now and again because my feet are really done in.

    The crutches can put extra strain on my shoulders, arms and hands but what else can we do.


  • I used to use a stick, with an anatomic handle. But as I got worse, I put too much weight on it and damaged my shoulder. It took ages to recover, so I daren't use one now.

    I walk less and less, and I can't self propel in a wheelchair.

    I have thought about a scooter, but I would not be able to lift it into the car, and locally there are no flat areas for me to use it.

    Do be careful, and get expert advice won't you?

  • I see a specialist rheumatology physiotherapist - she is amazing. She was the one who suggested crutches, the handles are anatomic and the height is definitely right. She looked at my gait pattern today and said I walk really well with both. However, we decided that it's 1 crutch for every day use and 2 for longer (ha!) distances, so my shoulder gets a break.

  • I had problems and was given a four wheeled walker by physiotherapist on loan. Can manage with that easily in the house. I do also have a three wheeled walker on lone as well from social services and I bought a mobility scooter for outside.

  • Hi all I use a stick but on really bad days I use a crutch for balance. I need to get a softer grip for the handle. I got fed up with people saying why do you need a stick/crutch so now I say "its a fashion statement" lol. I drive but I could really do with an automatic as changing gear kills my hands.

  • I use trekking poles when walking as I find they are easier on other joints. The ones I use are called pacer poles and are brilliant.


  • I am the same as you , use two sticks but they hurt my arms and shoulders. I heard about pacer poles too and am gonna talk to the physio about them.

  • I really recommend them, they are much better than ordinary trekking poles due to the handle shape. \I bought mine online. I'm having to use crutches at the moment as I had an accident and fractured my knee cap and they are horrendous, they make my wrists and shoulders hurt so much, can't wait to get back to the poles when the plaster comes off!

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