When Can I Get Rid of My Crutches?

We’ve all been there, I can’t find anyone I’ve met who hasn’t sprained or broken or strained their leg somehow.  So, we’re handed crutches, or maybe a walker, and sometimes…. that’s it.  Not a lot of instruction because they seem pretty intuitive for the most part right?

But when can you stop using them?  How do you I know if you’re ready as your therapist?  The answer, surprisingly, is very simple (and I never get to say that)!  Can you walk without a limp?  If yes, assuming you can pass some relatively easy tests, you’re probably in the clear!  But why do we wait?

Well, even after a bone or tissue is healed, pain and stiffness can stick around, which affects how we walk.  A huge key to making sure we return to normal function in running, walking, and sport, is making sure we don’t develop odd compensatory patterns.  This is not so hard to fix when we have support, and over time you can use less and less restrictive devices to continue this support as your leg becomes more and more able to bear weight, but if you are walking “off” without your device, you’re probably not quite ready to go without yet!  But as soon as you are, you’re ready to be asked to test out of your crutches!

I never get to give straightforward answers, but barring some strange circumstances, this one is usually pretty easy!

Written By: Dr. Alec Martinez