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How To Choose and Use a Cane


Updated May 26, 2006

To obtain the maximum support from a cane it must be a proper fit and used correctly.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 20 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Consider the functionality of the cane, not only its appearance.

  2. Select from the various styles of canes by considering the stability each offers.

  3. Choose a cane that is light.

  4. To select the proper length for a cane, stand up straight with your shoes on and arms at your sides. The top of the cane should reach the crease on the under side of your wrist.

  5. If the cane is a proper fit, your elbow will be flexed 15-20 degrees when you hold the cane while standing.

  6. Choose an adjustable cane if you plan to wear different styles of shoes.

  7. Make sure you have a good grip of the cane and that the fingers and thumb do not overlap.

  8. Shift as much weight to the cane as necessary.

  9. Make sure that the tip of the cane is in good condition and that it is replaceable.

  10. Hold the cane with the opposite hand of the side that needs extra support.

  11. When ascending stairs, step first with the cane and good foot following with the bad side.

  12. When descending stairs, step first with the bad foot and follow with the cane and good foot.


  1. Always take your cane with you.

  2. Keep your free hand on the railing when going up or down stairs.

  3. With a written prescription from your doctor, most health insurance will cover the cost of a cane.

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