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Types of Crutches: How to Choose the Right One?

Types of Crutches: How to Choose the Right One?
Taikhum Sadiq

Types     |     Accessories     |     Using Crutches on Stairs

Over the years, you probably saw a person on crutches countless times but never once paused to give it another thought. Now, when fate has put you in a place where this mobility aid will be your saving grace, you are surprised how little you know about one of the most common mobility supports. The different types of crutches available have you looking for an answer to the obvious question - What would be the right one for you? Choosing the right type of crutch makes a big difference to one’s safety and stability. Proper usage and the correct size may reduce the risk of falls or further damage to joints.
Acting as a substitute for the injured leg, these mobility aids broaden the support base to maintain balance and stability. Hence, arm strength, posture, coordination, and balance are things that must be factored in before choosing the right crutch. Lower limb injuries, such as ankle sprain, broken ankle, cast care, knee injury, broken foot or toe, etc., often necessitate the use of these aids. Crutches are also used by amputees, paralytics, and people with disabilities who have trouble walking. They allow the user an upright posture and help maneuver in places inaccessible to wheelchairs.

Choosing the Right Crutch

Crutches help bear the weight of an individual, and therefore, it is important they are custom-fitted. The correct choice and application help minimize complications such as weakened hand, wrist, and forearm muscle and underarm nerve damage.

What are the Different Types of Crutches?

Underarm and Forearm are two of the most common types of crutches. The type of injury and recommendation of trained personnel is what helps you choose between the two crutch types.

Image describing two different types of crutches

Underarm Forearm
  • Readily available
  • Require less upper body strength
  • Easy to master, takes less coordination


  • Encourage proper posture
  • Easier to use on uneven terrain
  • Typically more comfortable during use
  • Can be painful & cause sore underarms, wrists & hands
  • Improper use can lead to axillary nerve dysfunction
  • Require more upper body strength
  • Can be more difficult to master


What are Underarm Crutches?

Earlier, underarm or auxiliary crutches had only pads to support the armpits. Still, today, many of these come equipped with shock-absorbing rubber bars that can be comfortably placed under the arm while walking. Underarm crutches are suitable for temporary injuries, disabilities such as ankle sprains, knee injuries, or recovery from a surgical procedure. Little training is required to use these types of crutches, and they are inexpensive. Two simple functionalities are height adjustments and hand grip height adjustments. Correct size and fit are highly important, as the wrong choice can affect muscles and nerves under the arm.

Things to remember when using an Underarm crutch:

  • For safety purposes, crutches must be measured correctly to avoid falls and injuries

  • There should be a distance of 2-3 fingers between the crutch pad and the armpit (around 5 cm)

  • The elbow must be flexed at an angle of 30 degrees and be at par with the top of the pelvis when one holds the handle grip

  • Bodyweight should be supported by the handgrips and not the underarms to avoid damaging the nerves

  • Crutch tips should rest approximately 2 inches forward and 6 inches outside the feet to provide proper balance

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Buy McKesson Underarm Crutch



What are Forearm Crutches?

Forearm crutches have an open cuff that grips around the user's forearm. Also known as elbow or the Lofstrand crutch, they are used by amputees and people with lifelong or permanent disabilities owing to polio or multiple sclerosis. This type is easier to use as it offers greater freedom of movement, and people can choose to navigate over rough terrains or up and down stairways.

Things to remember while using Forearm Support Crutches:

  • The crutch should be 6inches (15cm) in front of your foot and 2-4 inches (5-10cm) to the side of the foot

  • The height of the handgrips should be at wrist level

  • The cuff should be adjusted 1 inch below the elbow

  • If the height is properly adjusted, the elbow will be flexed at 30 degrees when you hold the handgrips

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For a first-time user, it is safe to follow instructions from a designated health expert. Research has shown that the wrist receives one to three times the body weight when swinging the crutches while walking, an extra load the upper body was not designed to sustain. Thus, when the need arises to use crutches, it is best to transition slowly into a regular routine to limit the additional stress on the wrists and avoid the risk of injury to another part of the body.

Accessories of Crutches

There is a wide range of crutch accessories that can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of both underarm and forearm crutches. They include:

Crutch tips – The tips are the foundation of your crutches, and a faulty tip can result in slips and falls. There are multiple crutch tip options in the form of latex tips, ice crutch attachments, and many more.

Pads and covers – Pads and covers are usually used with underarm crutches, where pads and covers such as gel pads, non-latex pads, fleece covers, and cushy gel covers are used to cover the shoulder rest. They offer great comfort and ease of use.

Grips – Grips are an important part of the crutch since a rough and uneasy grip can cause discomfort, rashes, and falls. Sturdy, high-quality hand grips can help enhance the experience by allowing easy use of this mobility aid.

Using Crutches on Stairs

Using the stairs with this mobility equipment can be a challenging task. Technically, it is safest to go up and down the stairs when seated, but many a time, it isn’t practical.

Going up the stairs with crutches (when seated):

  • Sit on a low step (back facing the top of the staircase).
  • Place the crutches as far up the stairs as your hand reaches.
  • Reach behind with both arms.
  • Use your arms and a weight-bearing leg to move up one step.
  • Repeat this procedure till you reach the top of the stairs.

Going up the stairs with crutches (when standing):

  • Take a step up with your weight-bearing leg.
  • Move your crutches to the next stairs, one by one.
  • Place your weight again on your weight-bearing leg.
  • Move your weak/affected/injured leg upwards.

Going down the stairs with crutches (when seated):

  • Sit on the top step (the back should face the top of the staircase).
  • Slide the crutches down the stairs as far as you can.
  • Reach behind you with both arms.
  • Use your arms and a weight-bearing leg to move down one step.
  • Repeat this till you reach the bottom of the stairs.

Going down the stairs with crutches (when standing):

  • Place your crutches one step down, holding one in each of your hands.
  • Move your weak leg forward, followed by your weight-bearing leg.
  • If there is a handrail, you can hold your crutches in one hand and the rail in the other.

Whether you need it for a short duration or a longer period, a well-chosen crutch will go a long way in mobility independence and an injury-free life.

Where to Buy Crutches Online?

At HPFY, we have different types of crutches that help for excellent support during mobility and help you easily maneuver in all kinds of spaces and environments. Health Products For You has been online since 2002 to cater to its varied global clientele successfully. Shop from our wide range of crutches and get exclusive discounts on all that you buy. Explore now!

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Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Taikhum Sadiq

Taikhum Sadiq

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Taikhum Sadiq has been a Health Products For You contributor since 2016.

He is an archaeology student and is passionate about learning about the past and how it impacts our future. He believes ...

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