The importance of walking aids

When I first had my injury, I limped around for 3 days. Yes, I didn’t think a knee wrap is helpful to support me, and didn’t have any walking aids around, except for my mother’s old walking stick, and umbrellas. Of course, I didn’t think it was necessary to have a walking aid. I could limp slowly elsewhere.

Until my knee buckled in the bathroom. That scared me to death.

The knee injury

I hurt my knee while playing a game at my kid’s family day event.

Now, I could walk for hours still later, though my knee felt weak. I had an afternoon nap that Saturday, and woke up to a painful, swollen knee that evening. I have a pretty high threshold for pain so I decided to slowly limp around.

The next day, as I finished my shower, I turned to grab my bath towel and my I slipped slightly. Instinctively, my left knee took some of my weight, but I couldn’t hold myself up, it overextended and buckled. I fell, and felt that fall (I’m a pretty big guy) and that got me worried.

I used my mother’s walking stick (a quad cane) for the next two days till I met with my orthopedic doctor, who put me on elbow crutches and a hinged knee brace.

My mother, who stays with my family and takes care of my little girl, has knee osteoarthristis. For months, she also hobbled around, but because I knew her condition, she had everything she needed for us to get around with minimal pain while waiting for her knee replacement surgery to happen.

  • quad cane when the pain was bearable and she rather walk
  • A walker when the pain was unbearable, but she still wants to walk
  • A pushchair (a lightweight wheelchair) when the pain was unbearable to walk

Sounds like a mini-rehab mart, but we have all these at home now.

What you need for a knee injury or pain

The aim of these items is to help you walk. It’s important to note that when you have knee pain, these walking aids will be extremely valuable to you even after you get your knee fixed. This is because the potential of you needing it again, is higher than someone who haven’t had a knee injury.

Most importantly, these items are your support in your current times of need.

You can always resell or donate these items when you don’t need them.

So what should you get for yourself to support you when you walk around with a painful knee? I coped really well with a knee brace, knee sleeve, and one crutch, although the doctor recommended me to be on 2 crutches.

Knee brace – what does it do?

From my experience, a hinged knee brace is useful a a rehabilitation tool, or a functional tool. As a functional brace, it supports my injured knee and limits the chances of it overextending. And if I fall, the brace acts at a shield to absorb some of the impact. As a rehab brace, I can lock the brace so that my leg can’t bend at the knees, or and only be limited to a smaller range of motion. This is very useful after my surgery, and especially when I’m sleeping.

Key tips on choosing a knee brace

  • Weight of brace – the lighter the better!
  • For a ligament tear, choose a level 3 brace – this is usually a hinged knee brace that’s attached from your thigh to your calf. This gives you the best support. Alternatively, ask your doctor for a recommendation. He may recommend different types of braces at different stages of recovery.
  • Wear the brace snug with some compression – not too tight though, 2 fingers must be able to still fit through between the strap and your thigh.

A knee brace does not prevent further or future injuries, it supports your knee physically, and psychologically gives you some peace (maybe a false sense of security).

What’s a knee sleeve?

A knee sleeve is something you slip on, and is not to be confused with a knee wrap that you see some athletes use in power sports. Contrary to what’s been said above knee sleeves providing support, etc, I’ve used it long enough to know that it only provides two important things to my knee:

  • Compression – it reduces the swelling around my knee area
  • Awareness – because it’s tight, I can feel my knee better and am very aware of how every leg movement affect the sleeved knee. This made me more careful when moving around

While different brands and products will tell you a knee sleeve or a knee brace prevents you from further injury, I can honestly tell you they don’t. What prevents you from further injury is physiotherapy, conditioning and being aware of your body and what’s going on around you.

Walking sticks and crutches

This is a no-brainer. Crutches and walking sticks help to bear some (or most) of the load from the injured leg. If you’re using the walking aid on one side, it needs to be on the opposite side of the injured leg. Dr House is doing it wrong:

Both the cane / stick and your injured leg move forward together – this way, this spreads the load rather than having the full weight bearing on the injured leg. It is extremely important to note:

  • If you can, always buy a good, new walking stick – you don’t want a ten-year-old used stick that’s gone through a beating to rely on.
  • Always get an adjustable walking stick – the movable hinge height means you’ll never have to worry about it being too low / too high
  • Use the walking aid as instructed, or learn to use it properly. Improper use of the walking aid can either increase your risk of injury, or is of no help to you.
  • You don’t have to get the most expensive one

Of course, if you’ve injured your knee and you’re looking for walking aids, you can order from Amazon online. They do returns if the products are defective or faulty, so you never have to worry.

Take care!