Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Using a Cane after a Hip or Knee Replacement

After your hip or knee replacement surgery you will be immediately placed on a walker to give you needed support and balance. I come across patients however that want to try and skip the walker and get right onto a cane. This is not what I recommend.

A popular question among patients is when will I get off the walker and onto a cane?

I generally look at a patients ability to ambulate properly with the rolling walker and if that individual is using the proper foot sequencing and posture. Also considered is how much weight bearing is being placed through the walker with their arms.

The time table can vary from patient to patient however, I usually look to begin the process of converting someone to a single point cane in two weeks from the day of surgery. This again can vary from patient to patient in regards to age, prior level of function, cognition etc....

I have had patients in the past  and, currently have one right now that refuse to use a cane. In fact, they did not use the rolling walker provided as instructed either. In turn what you get is a patient that stays in a tremendous amount of joint discomfort and they develop a limp compensating for the painful joint.

In turn they reinforce a poor gait pattern and the rehabilitation of the affected joint is not as effective as it should be.

The transition is made gradually from a walker to a cane. Your rehabilitation professional will be able to look at each individual case on its own and determine when it is time for the conversion.

When it is time to use the cane you will not be using it as a weight bearing device That is what the walker is for. The single point cane is used for balance only. It acts like a third leg providing you with a wider base of support.

Wait for the right time before starting to use your cane. Trying to speed the process up is not a good idea. If you took the time to get the surgery done why not do the rehabilitation correctly and wait until your therapist recommends using the cane.

Richard Haynes PTA/CPT
TotalJoint Fitness LLC
Punta Gorda, Florida.