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How to Properly Adjust and Use a Cane

Generally, people use assistive devices such as a walker or a cane while walking to alleviate strain or stress through a particular lower extremity. Often it will be recommended that you utilize an assistive device for extra support while you regain your mobility following a surgical procedure of your back or legs or following a period of immobility. Many people use a walker or cane to assist their mobility if they have pain or weakness in their lower extremities, regardless of surgery. One of the most common assistive devices that you may see used is the single point cane.

Being that this cane is commercially available, most have options for adjusting the cane length based on the user’s height. However, please do not adjust your cane length/height without consulting with your doctor or physical therapist. If you are using an assistive device following a surgery or procedure, a member of your medical team should adjust the height for you prior to having you use it. Having your assistive device properly adjusted for your height will greatly increase the amount of support that it will provide for you.

Sizing your cane:

  • Hold the cane in the hand OPPOSITE your affected leg.

  • Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart.

  • With the cane resting on your hip, hang your arm comfortably to your side, and hold the cane against your hip with the inside of your wrist. The top of the cane, where you would hold on, should be even with where your wrist bends or slightly above this point. This is the proper height for your cane.

To judge where you will place the cane to support your walking, have the hand grip of the cane against your hip, and the tip of the cane on the floor directly next to your foot. Then move the point of the cane about 6 inches to the side, and then 6 inches forward from that point. In this position you should be able to push through the cane comfortably as you step with your affected leg.

Again, it is important to use the cane on the opposite side of your body to your affected leg, as this will help promote a normal gait pattern if and when you transition away from using an assistive device.

The combination of the proper cane height and instruction on correct use will be instrumental in your rehabilitation after a lower extremity injury or surgery.


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