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What are Crutches?

By Misty Amber Brighton
Updated: May 17, 2024

Crutches are a type of medical equipment used to help people who have suffered an injury to one of their feet, knees, ankles, or legs. Basically, they are a long bar that an individual can lean on in order to avoid using the leg on the side of the body that is hurt. These are normally recommended by a doctor for a patient to use temporarily so the afflicted area can rest and will not be harmed any further.

A crutch normally has a soft bar across the top which is placed underneath the armpit. There will usually then be two metal rods underneath this bar, which extend downward. Near the bottom, this bar typically turns into a single pole that has a rubber end, similar to a drain-stopper. A handle grip is usually located in the middle of the bar so the user can hold onto it. A patient has one crutch on each side of his body, most of the time.

Different types of devices are available for both children and adults. Even mobility aids designed for an adolescent are usually shorter in length than an adult's. Some devices are adjustable to accommodate differences in height. In some instances, a set can be custom made to fit a particular individual.

People who have never used any type of support for walking may have to learn how to use crutches. This is usually accomplished with practice. Normally a person places the bases of them slightly in front of the feet. He can then take the weight off of the injured extremity, and, with his arms, shift it onto the crutches. The body should swing forward between the crutches, in a slow, forward motion, with the uninjured foot or leg assisting in this movement.

This type of walking aid is not usually used for people who have a permanent disability. Most of the time, these individuals use a cane or walker to help them get around. These assistive devices are typically recommended for a period of around six to eight weeks, but can sometimes be used for as long as six months, if a person is slow to heal or has multiple injuries.

Crutches are not normally painful to use. Users may have some soreness under the arm initially, but this typically subsides after a few days. People who have had accidents involving their lower extremities might find them to be very beneficial in helping them get around, while they are recovering.

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Discussion Comments
By Saraq90 — On Oct 01, 2011

Reading about crutches, and all these different stories, especially people who never will have the chance to freely walk on their own again, makes me want to cry and makes me want to start walking more.

Luckily, I have not injured myself bad enough to even need crutches. My friend actually ran over my ankle with her Chevy Malibu car, and miraculously I only had a fractured ankle! I only had to wear a clothe ace bandage around my ankle for a few weeks. Even having that on and having to elevate my ankle made me so much more aware of how great being able to move freely was/is.

From the sound of things, crutches are better than having nothing to assist you, but are definitely are not comfortable or ideal. I wish someone to could come out with something more comfortable for all the people who have to wear crutches. There seems to be a design flaw in them because I have heard a lot of people complain about how uncomfortable crutches are.

By golf07 — On Sep 30, 2011

A good friend of mine lost part of her leg in a car accident several years ago. Up to this point she has not been a candidate for a prosthetic limb, so has spent all of these years using a pair of crutches.

They are just a simple pair of aluminum crutches with padding on the top, and using them for so many years has really taken a toll on her arms.

She has gotten to the point that she will usually use a motorized scooter instead of the crutches because it is so much better for her body.

It really makes me realize how much I take for granted that I can get up and walk around without the need for crutches or any other device.

By honeybees — On Sep 29, 2011

We have a set up crutches that are hanging on a hook in our garage. Every time we move we end up bringing these crutches with us because you just never know when they might come in handy.

These adjustable crutches worked out great when the kids were growing up. This same pair of crutches was used for more than one kid and more than one injury.

Since they could be adjusted we were able to use this pair without needing to buy or rent a new pair when we needed them.

The kids used to think they were kind of fun to play around with - until they actually had to use them for a few weeks. It didn't take long for the fun to wear off after that.

By JessicaLynn — On Sep 29, 2011

@KaBoom - A lot of kids seem to be fascinated by medical equipment for some reason. I remember having a ton of fun rolling around in my great-grandmas wheelchair when I was little. But of course we all know actually being in a wheel chair for real is the opposite of fun.

I always feel bad for people who are stuck on crutches, myself. I remember one summer I saw a guy walking around on crutches on a really hot day. He looked so sweaty and uncomfortable, especially in the underarm area.

By KaBoom — On Sep 28, 2011

When I was a little kid, for some reason I thought it would be really cool to use crutches. I don't know why I thought that!

However, one of my friends in school eventually broke their leg and I got a chance to try her crutches. After I walked around on crutches for about 5 minutes, they totally lost their appeal. I was happy to hand them back over to my friend and get back to walking the regular way.

Luckily, I've never had to use crutches yet. And hopefully I won't have to!

By letshearit — On Sep 28, 2011

I broke my ankle a few weeks ago and have been stuck on crutches since then. I have found though, that the underarm crutches are really uncomfortable and are seriously straining my arms. Not to mention that my underarms are killing me.

Has anyone had any luck with forearm crutches? Did you find them more comfortable?

I am thinking about going to my doctor and begging him for something different. I have actually been avoiding going out just because my underarms ache so much after using the crutches. I already tried extra padding and it really didn't help very much. I just feel at a loss as to what to do.

By lonelygod — On Sep 27, 2011

If you are injured and need to use crutches to get around it is a good idea to buy your own wooden crutches instead of renting them. The hospital I went to charged a lot to rent their crutches, and I actually managed to buy crutches really cheaply at a yard sale.

Crutches seem to be one of those things that are also always randomly popping up in the classified ads. Plus, if you're lucky, your city might have a store that specializes in selling medical equipment. Sometimes they have things like crutches for sale at a discount. It can save you quite a lot of cash in the long run if you're willing to shop around.

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