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How to Adjust a Cane

Ensure Your Cane is the Right Size for You


Updated April 29, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

If you are having a problem walking or moving about, you may need an assistive device to help you safely get around. Devices such as walkers, crutches, and canes are available to help you walk better and decrease your risk of falling.

A straight cane is a device that you can use after injury or illness to help you improve your ability to walk. It provides support to help you keep your balance while walking.

While a cane can be an effective device to help you walk better, it works best when sized and adjusted properly.

Canes are usually made out of wood or metal. Most metal canes are adjustable. Simply loosen the tension screw near the bottom and push the small button in on the side of the cane. You can then slide the metal parts of the cane to make your cane shorter or longer. Remember to make sure that the push button is fully engaged in a hole and that you tighten the tension screw once you are done.

If your cane is wooden, you can make it shorter by cutting off the right amount on the bottom. Be careful not to cut too much off; you cannot make a wooden cane longer. A good rule to follow is "measure twice, cut once."

Follow these steps to make sure your cane is fitted properly. You should always consult your physical therapist or doctor to make sure that your cane is right for your specific condition.

  1. While standing, hold your cane in one hand and let the tip of the cane rest on the floor. Typically, you should hold your cane on the side of your body opposite your injury. For example, if you have left knee pain, hold the cane in your right hand.

  2. When holding the handle of the cane, the cane should come to the level of your hip bone on the side of your upper thigh.

  3. When you grab the handle of your cane, your elbow should be bent approximately 20 degrees. A visit to a physical therapist may be in order so he or she can use a goniometer to measure your elbow position to ensure it is correct.

  4. An alternative way to measure your cane height is to stand with the cane at your side. The top of the cane should be at the level of your wrist when your arm is hanging comfortably at your side.

Remember, your doctor or physical therapist should check to make sure that your cane is sized properly and that you are using your cane correctly when walking.

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