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Questions for crutch walkers....

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    Questions for crutch walkers....

    Thought I might catch a few more crutch walkers here...

    1) Have any of you developed carpal tunnel symptoms (ex. hand numbness) when you walk with your crutches? Especially curious for those of you who rely heavily on your crutches/arms for support.

    My father is starting to get hand numbness if he walks for longer distances, and sometimes on the treadmill. It goes away when he stops.

    If so, how did you deal with it?

    2) What is your optimal floor covering in your home?

    Hardwood floors work best for his wheelchair, but carpet/cushion is nicer on the shoulders when walking. What do you use? Do any of you have a tight/low-pile carpet that isn't too restrictive when you are in the wheelchair?

    Crutch tips make all the difference. I use Fetterman's Tornado Tips


      Shock-absorbing, non-skid crutch tips and ergonomic hand grips are really important for maintaining the health of hands and shoulders - maybe look into a pair of Fetterman crutches and/or crutch tips for your father, as they are designed to address the kinds of issues your father is having. I currently use WalkEasy crutches with ergonomic grips (modified with Fetterman tips), but have heard that Fetterman makes sturdier, equally lightweight crutches (albeit more costly).

      I have found Fetterman Tornado Gel Rain Tips (recommended by Arndog in several threads) to be very helpful. Walking on a smooth surface with the Fetterman tips doesn't feel much different from walking on a low-pile carpet, and in fact I feel more secure on a smooth surface because the crutch tips can't get hung up on pile. They might be good to try for your dad, if he doesn't already use them.

      Do your father's crutches have ergonomic hand grips? That would help to equalize the pressure on his palms. I started with ultra-lightweight WalkEasy crutches and loved them, but the non-ergonomic grips were murder on my hands after awhile - when I went to their ergonomic grip design, it made a huge difference.

      Best wishes with finding ways to address your dad's discomfort. I've found that it's a constant process of trial and error to find solutions that work well consistently.

      (Edited to add: After posting, I saw that cbdives also recommends Fetterman crutch tips. They really are great.)
      MS with cervical and thoracic cord lesions


        Yep - all that, but even worse is tennis elbow and shoulder pain for me.......
        Steve Garro.


          My hands don't like it ether, might just be part of the program. Maybe one can build up to it, thats my hope anyway. Reminds me of a gymnast on the pommel horse. Seems like gymnasts ware so kind of rest protection?
          T12L1 Incomplete Still here This is the place to be 58 years old


            Originally posted by flying View Post
            Maybe one can build up to it, thats my hope anyway..Seems like gymnasts ware so kind of rest protection?
            Unfortunately, one does not build up a tolerance where hard handgrips and rigid crutch tips are concerned - instead, those things gradually wear down the joints and put pressure on important nerves. Whenever motion comes up against rigid resistance, the result is friction, wear and tear.

            For the crutch user, ergonomic hand grips are the equivalent of the gymnast's rest protection. It's beneficial to use ergonomic hand grips from the beginning of crutch use, in order to minimize or delay joint and nerve damage. I wish I had fully appreciated those issues from the get-go, but I was focused on cost - for only a few dollars more, my joints would have been able to distribute force more efficiently and I could have felt more comfortable and stable.
            MS with cervical and thoracic cord lesions


              +1 on the Tornado tips.

              I have commercial office carpeting with no pad where I have carpeting. Good for both wheelchair and crutch walking.


                Thanks for all the posts guys!

                My Dad has been using a pair of Walk Easy crutches with ergonomic grips and Tornado tips since the beginning (4 years). I have been amazed that he hasn't already developed shoulder problems when I see the pounding those shoulders take.... It is a testament to the Tornado tip!

                But it is a concern that he can get hand numbness, even with this system. I know part of it is that he has to be very careful about the exact angle of the grips (to keep his wrists from hyper-extending).

                Is anyone using the Fetterman crutches? Which grips are best - the gels? Any comments on the various Fetterman crutch options.... are the expensive ones even worth it? Is anything better (pain to joints, stability, fewer falls?!?) then what we are already using?

                He has spoken with Fetterman a couple times about his tips, and he has the rain and snow tips. Falls are still a big concern.... He asked Fetterman about the tornado tips with the large diameter (could they be more stable?), but they are only compatible with the bariatric crutches.

                So I take it most of you have wood floors in the house (ie. no carpets?)? It does make sense that certain pile carpets could be more unstable. But he does mention when we are walking indoors at the hospital, it feels nicer when we make the long walks along the carpeted floors.


                  It sounds like your dad is doing really well overall, probably in large measure because he is already using ergonomic hand grips and Tornado tips. Excellent! I wish I had some Fetterman crutches and am eager to hear what others say about them.

                  Our house has a mixture of low-pile carpeting and hardwood/linoleum floors - I much prefer the smooth surfaces, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that I have footdrop and can drag my foot better (when I'm not wearing my KAFO or knee cage) without the grab of carpeting. Your dad's needs might be quite different, in that regard.
                  MS with cervical and thoracic cord lesions


                    Something else your dad might want to consider are Arbin Quickstep crutches. Fetterman is the US distributor for these versatile and sturdy Norwegian crutches. They are listed on Fetterman's site as travel crutches because they are collapsible, but they are much more than that. Saranoya has written a couple of posts about how pleased she is with her Arbin Quicksteps, as they are extremely stable and the entire design is ergonomic (they also have ergonomic grips, and Fetterman puts Tornado tips on them). Arbin's original website has more pictures and info about them.
                    MS with cervical and thoracic cord lesions


                      Originally posted by Bonnette View Post
                      Something else your dad might want to consider are Arbin Quickstep crutches. Fetterman is the US distributor for these versatile and sturdy Norwegian crutches. They are listed on Fetterman's site as travel crutches because they are collapsible, but they are much more than that. Saranoya has written a couple of posts about how pleased she is with her Arbin Quicksteps, as they are extremely stable and the entire design is ergonomic (they also have ergonomic grips, and Fetterman puts Tornado tips on them). Arbin's original website has more pictures and info about them.

                      Thank you Bonette for all of your very useful ideas and recommendations.

                      We have wondered about such "travel" crutches in the past. It would be really convenient to have a pair, especially if you traveling with a wheelchair or walker as well etc.. My father's concern has always been the stability.... He is a big man - over 6' 1" and he has recently gained quite a bit a weight... and he pounds his crutches! So any crutch that is not really sturdy is a concern, and we are starting to wonder if a crutch with a weight limit of 250 lbs might be a little risky.

                      My Dad has been scanning the web and it seems like there are more options for crutches then when we first bought his 4 years ago. He is finding some brands I am not familiar with that have shock absorption in the crutch itself (!), and he was questioning whether the ergonomic hand grips were necessary...... He's also had a rough time with his Walk Easy cuffs, which get stretched out from falls and regular use and clearly need to be replaced much more frequently. Wonder if the Federman cuffs are a much more sturdy construction.

                      So thanks for posts everyone. I would love to hear more stories about the pros/cons of the crutches you use and what you have learned, and what is your ideal.... And how often you replace your crutches (and how you decide when to...)?
                      Last edited by hlh; 12 May 2012, 12:46 AM.


                        Yes, that 250 lb weight limit can be a problem. I know that one member here was very unhappy with WalkEasy because a pair buckled under him (and he was actually below the weight limit) - customer service was not very responsive, either.

                        I bought a pair of crutches through Amazon several years ago - they had shock absorbers built into the tips (as you describe) and they were quite well made, with ergonomic grips, but very heavy. Since your dad is over 6', he might not mind a heavier crutch and the shock absorbers could certainly be a plus.

                        Well, I know you have a lot to think about and many options to consider - best wishes on finding the best equipment to meet your dad's needs.
                        MS with cervical and thoracic cord lesions


                          HLH - I am the master of overuse of crutches having crutch walked/hiked around Lake Tahoe 165 miles on the Tahoe Rim Trail over a summer with some days being 21 miles and 4000 ft of climbing, Ugh.
                          If there is a way to overdo anything , sign me up !
                          So I have done some 11 hours continuous crutch walking both with Fetterman with Tornado tips and then with Sidestix crutches with a shock absorber and, more importantly, a handgrip that is borrowed from the mountain bike world called "Ergo Grips" and placed on the grip tube. It is the best grip I have found and my hand issues went away. Please check out the "Ergo Grips" on the SideStix crutches. There is a right grip and a left grip. I would rotate the grip medially to eliminate all extension of the wrist and have it in neutral which helps to not stretch the median nerve. This aligns the radius and ulna with the metacarpal bones to a parallel line.

                          The next super critical thing to do is- to get padded cycling gloves. There are some gloves that are padded in the thenar and hypothenar regions which then take the pressure off the median nerve and the general cushioning and support of the leather glove helps.

                          The third thing to do is to learn a technique that includes hand relaxation between placing body weight on them, release the grip as much as possible to bring blood back to the tissues.

                          So my hands are okay but I beat my elbows up bad from all that long distance crutch hiking. I have some sort of nagging lateral epicondylitis symptoms that won't go away. I have backed off on the crutch walking quite a bit of late. But my hands are okay.

                          I hope this helps. Oh, the reason I am writing late is I just now am coming home from seeing David Shiffrin (clarinetist) play with some Reno musicians, Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. Second time experiencing it live. Mr Shiffrin OWNS that piece. He could have at least made it look like it was hard. It seemed effortless. I don't think I have ever seen someone so good at their instrument. They also played Beethoven's clarinet trio and Debussy's Cello Sonata. All in all, a great evening that I know you would have enjoyed in our little cow town. Sorry for changing the subject but how many people really love classical music?


                            I have custom titanium Fetterman crutches which I found on my own and purchased over 10 years ago while still at Craig Rehab Hospital. They have been great to me. My wife ran one over with her car - it was fine. I know I am not greater than 200 lbs, or 150 lbs, but I am sure that my wife's car is ! So they are sturdy. One thing I have not tried is to measure the diameter of the grip tube and compare it to the SideStix to see if I could get a pair of these incredible Ergo Grips to go on the Fettermans. Maybe I will do that soon. The shock absorber in the SideStix is a flexible polymer built into the down tube just under the grip. It is subtle but works really well and it is made of billeted aluminum - with different polymer inserts depending on your weight. So if you were over 200 lbs, they have a stiffer polymer for that. I use the medium polymer ( I think). These come apart and break into 2 pieces just under the grip so you could pack them or put them into a bag for a wheelchair. It requires a 4 mm allen key which really is not a big deal as long as your hands function well. I have beat these up climbing talus rocks hiking around Tahoe and they are sturdy. Personally, adjustable crutches with those little buttons and aluminum tubing - don't work for me. Why? Because the holes will ovalize and then start clacking and rattling. If you weigh more than Mr. sub 150 and closer to 200 lbs, you will start to ovalize those holes fast and clack around. I like noiseless crutches made solidly like the Fettermans and the SideStix. I don't plan on growing anytime soon, ( but maybe I am shrinking slowly ! )

                            Good luck


                              The Arbin Quickstep crutches are extremely sturdy. They are oval in cross section (ie, thicker), and weigh 800 g apiece (almost twice as much as the WalkEasy 461s). I ordered them from Fetterman to try them out, and wound up returning them mostly because of the weight issue.

                              I wouldn't think of them as "travel crutches", I'd think of them as collapsible crutches. The cuffs are also very sturdy, as they are designed so that you can stand the crutches up on the cuffs (upside down). Again, I didn't like that as I prefer the more flexible cuff for when I'm doing other things (arms stretched out), but they might be just the ticket for your dad.

                              The QuickSteps also have holes for adjusting the height, but they are square, so I suspect they will not hog out like the WalkEasys eventually will.