The Common Side Effects of Using Crutches

For broken ankle, foot injury, knee and lower leg issues, or recovery from surgery doctors usually prescribe crutches. Like any other equipment, it comes with its own weak points.

It provides great benefits as a walking aid. Therefore, patients love it as a medium of mobility assistance. But patients equally suffer from the side effects of using crutches

The side effects mainly occur due to long-term usage or as a normal consequence of regular usage.

In this situation, understanding how to use it the right way and following the physician’s guidelines will help you reduce the intensity of side effects. So let’s discuss the common side effects that you face when using crutches.  

Types of Crutches:

The crutch is mobility aid medical equipment recommended for injured and disabled patients. It allows you to transfer your body weight from upper to lower portions of the body. 

There are different types of crutches available that suit individual patient requirements. Here, you will know about the most common crutches suggested during short or long-term injuries.

Axillary or Underarm Crutch: 

For the mobility aid issue, axillary or underarm crutches are the most commonly used crutches. Typically it’s made from wood or aluminum. It features a height-adjustable facility so that patients can fix it according to their needs.

However, it helps the patient who can’t use their legs to support their body weight. Doctors prescribe it for short-term injuries to lifelong disabilities. 

The underarm crutches are placed under the armpit with a pad placed against the ribcage and a hand-holding grip below the parallel of the pad. 

Nowadays, these crutches are seen to be used by young people and athletes who are suffering from injuries. 

Forearm or Elbow Crutch:

A forearm crutch comes with a cuff at the top which places around the forearm. It’s also widely known as an elbow crutch. 

It features a cuff through which a patient inserts his arm into the cuff and holds the grip. For short or long-term injuries, it’s widely used across the world. However, elbow crutches are especially convenient for long-term disabilities. 

Side Effects of Using Crutches:

Using crutches isn’t a pleasant experience for you when you’re injured. But, it provides enormous benefits to restoring damaged muscle and recovering injuries fast. 

If you’re not aware of using it properly and fail to maintain physician guidance then you may suffer from different short and long-term ailments. 

Below, is an overview of the common side effects of using crutches and taking preventative measures to avoid it.

Crutch Paralysis:

Damage to the radial nerve ending in the armpit can lead to constant pressure when using forearm crutches. 

Crutch paralysis mainly occurs when radial nerves that contain various nerves fail to supply sense and motor function to the arm and hand. As you use crutches regularly, it creates constant pressure on underarm muscles. 

If you are not aware of the problem early, it could lead to partial or full paralysis of the arm. It mainly happens when you can’t fix the height of the crutches in the right position.

So, if you face crutch paralysis, attend a physical therapy session to improve the function of your hand.

Skin Irritation:

During regular usage of crutches, it rubs against the skin between the underarm and chest which causes skin irritation. As you don’t use padding, underarm crutches cause the skin to chafe.

It can be a frustrating and painful experience during the time of injury. To reduce the problem, you can use body lotion or talcum powder.

Keep padding on the top as well as the grip of the crutches. I will prevent your underarm area from skin chafing. Therefore, using the best crutch pads will help you get free from the problem permanently. 

Slipping & Falling:

Non-slip grip and smaller points may cause unwanted slipping as well as falling. Meanwhile, it may intensify the existing weight-bearing injuries.

When you walk on the ground, sudden trip trouble may cause a patient to lose balance as he holds the tips of crutches and resulting fall on the ground. However, accessing a stairway can become very difficult with using crutches.

For this reason, to avoid sudden falling, you should fit the crutches at the right height and use an external grip so that you can balance your body weight.

Hand Pain:

Hand pain is a common ailment that happens while using crutches for a long time. 

However, there are many different reasons which create hand pain and strain. If you fail to fit your crutches at the right height and the grips don’t stay parallel to your hip bones, it may cause severe pain in your hand.

Again, if you use an old crutch and the padding can’t support your armpit then it may trigger hand pain. In this situation, you need to replace the old pads and buy new padding from an online medical store to soothe your arm pain.

So always add an extra cushion on the top as well as the grip of the crutches. Learning how to use the crutch the right way will help you largely reduce hand pain. 

Joint or Muscle Pain:

It’s the best practice to avoid leaning on the crutch. It creates unnecessary pressure on your underarm muscle. However, if you feel the pressure yet using the crutches the right way then you should check the height and fix it.

You may feel muscle or joint pain during the time of using crutches. As you can’t move straightly during leg injury, therefore it creates pressure on other parts of the muscle. It’s a great reason behind neck, elbow, and shoulder pain. 


Crutches are a great medical accessory that helps you recover damaged muscle and leg injuries. 

Meanwhile, careful use of crutches will quickly and effectively heal your wounds. Therefore, pick the right crutch that is suitable for your needs and largely contributes to reducing the side effects of using crutches in your daily life.

So what is your opinion regarding the side effects of crutches? Let us know in the comment below.

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