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 recommended and it will cause you a lot of unnecessary pain and discomfort as well
A popular question I get frequently 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 and of course the length of time from the surgical date and how confident the patient is with their balance.
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 or known as an antalgic gait pattern compensating for the painful joint.
In turn, they reinforce a poor gait pattern and the rehabilitation of the affected joint is not as effective or efficient as it could have been if the patient will follow the instructions provided by the physical rehabilitation specialist in t the first place.
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. Believe me, we will not keep someone on a walker if it is not needed, however, patient safety and proper rehabilitation protocol will definitely come into play.
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 giving you greater stability.
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