Many types of assistive walking devices are available today, and the tips below will help you select the best cane or walker for you. Canes and walkers are simple in design, but they come with big benefits. Canes are generally ideal for problems that occur on one side of the body (if you experience sciatica in one leg, for example), while walkers are better suited for pain that occurs on both sides (if you have weakness in both your legs, for instance).
Walkers provide ultimate stability, but four-point canes also support healthy balance and spine safety. When you’ve decided what type of walking device you’ll purchase, you’ll then have to decide which type to buy and make sure the fit is right for you.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to make these decisions alone: Your health care provider will help you find the right product that fits correctly, and will show you how to properly use it. Below are some things to think about when buying a cane or walker.
Standard : This is the simplest type of cane and usually comes with a comfortable T-shaped handle. It features a flat grip, and the upper shaft of the cane can bend outward.
These canes offer maximum stability, which is important if preventing falls and spinal fractures are your goals. If you start feeling numbness, tingling, or pain in your hands, you should talk to your doctor or physical therapist.
Canes are available at medical supply stores and pharmacies. Talk to your physical therapist or doctor when you’re thinking about purchasing a cane.
Movements that were once easy, such as going from a sitting to standing position, may take some time to feel normal again. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the right way to use your walker and to help you develop strategies to comfortably improve your mobility.
Walking assistive devices, such as canes and walkers, can help you move comfortably after spine surgery or allow you to maintain your independence if you’ve been living with a chronic spine condition. Nine years after a successful spinal fusion of two vertebrae in my lower back that relieved 90 percent of my sciatic and peripheral nerve pain, the stress on the next level up my back started to cause similar problems.
A year later, I found myself facing another back surgery and dreading the ordeal of recovery. Credit: Adobe Stockton first time was truly awful.
The pain and difficulty in regaining any quality of life was so off-putting that it was only until I knew I had no choice that I agreed to undergo the second operation. I was, after all, 10 years older (I'm now 69), not to mention 10 pounds heavier.
Now, just weeks after having had two more vertebrae fused, I can happily report that my recovery was wonderful. Pain actually stops the post- surgery healing process.
So take the prescribed pain medicine as directed. Ask your doctor if you have concerns, and be sure to keep prescription opioids out of the hands of others in your home, especially teens.
After four or five hours of surgery, your body has been through what Dr. John Starr, my surgeon from the Washington Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Group in Washington, D.C., compares to a major car wreck. Some people have reported feeling the effects of anesthesia for weeks.
It does little good for you to keep pushing yourself; it just makes the recovery process longer and more difficult. There's no better feeling than going home to your normal life, especially after it was ripped from you through surgery.
I'm talking about the basics here: showering, getting dressed, getting in and out of a chair, sleeping in your bed, and, of upmost importance, going to the bathroom! But after surgery, you'll have so many restrictions on bending, lifting and twisting (not to mention the pain in doing those things), it will be tough to achieve that normalcy.
As you experience life back home, you'll find that there are some things you can do for yourself and others that will require help. But gaining your life back will help promote healing as much as anything else.
But rest assured the pains you're feeling are likely normal reactions to the surgery and to the condition you were in before the operation. We all have hopes and expectations that we're going to bounce back quickly from surgery.
Secondly, unless the nerve compression was caused by trauma, your condition developed over time. Recovery after an operation, and getting back to where you were, is not a quick process.
Think about the fact that your bones will not fully fuse (after spinal fusion surgery) for 12 to 18 months. In fact, do more than that: make sure you put together a support network to help you recover.
(Tiger Woods' reported use of Vicodin when he was found asleep in his car Monday followed a back surgery in April.) So prearrange rides when you need to go to the doctor, store and even social occasions.
Just knowing someone's there will ease your anxiety, allowing you to master the basics you always took for granted. Bart Astor, an expert in life transitions and elder care, is the author of the book AARP Roadmap for the Rest of Your Life: Smart Choices About Money, Health, Work, Lifestyle and Pursuing Your Dreams and Baby Boomer’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents.
His website is BartAstor.com, and he can be reached at Read More Prepare ahead of time, so you can take control of your recovery and increase the odds of a positive surgical outcome.
How to Prep Your Home for Spine Surgery Recovery Video Save It allows nutrients to flow properly, helping with joint and organ maintenance.
Post- surgery constipation is uncomfortable, so eat high-fiber foods, such as pears, berries, broccoli, avocado, bananas, lentils, beans, and artichoke. Consider a meal kit delivery service that brings healthy pre-portioned food to your door.
Heat and ice therapy can be helpful ways to alleviate pain. Applications should be limited to 15 or 20 minutes at a time, with at least 2 hours of rest in between, to protect your skin.
Immediately after surgery, ask someone to help you add your pain medications or any other prescriptions your surgeon has ordered to your organizer. A cane or walker can help add support and security as you take your first steps around your home and neighborhood.
A grabber device, sometimes called a reacher or gripper, can help you pick up and reach for items without bending or twisting. Sitting on a recliner, with your legs raised and upper back propped up, may help ease some of your discomfort.
If you do not have a recliner, you can create a similar effect using pillows underneath your legs and behind your back. A body pillow may help you find different sleeping or reclining options.
These are comfortable, and the smooth material may make it easier to slide in and out of bed. The brace may additional support to your spine and muscles as you become accustomed to moving around.
In the early days after surgery, you may be in too much pain to stretch enough to scratch your back. Before your surgery, set up a mini fridge next to your bed, so you can keep snacks, drinks, and any refrigerated medications nearby and in reach.
Enjoy a little diversion and splurge on a streaming subscription, so you can watch movies on your television, laptop, or tablet. Use a free music-streaming service to make a playlist of all your favorite music or to discover podcast shows.
Crosswords help keep your brain sharp while you recover from surgery, and coloring books (made for adults) offer stress-relieving patterns to fill in. A friend or family member who likes to talk on the phone.
Sometimes you may not be in the mood for a full conversation, but just chatting with someone via texting can help you feel more connected. Once you are feeling a little better, invite friends and family over for short visits.
Anticipating their visits can be just as rewarding as the actual time you spend with them. Arrange for extra help cleaning the house and taking care of the yard.
Sharing your health journey on a blogging platform or on Spine-health's Back and Neck Pain Support Group on Facebook can be a helpful outlet that allows your loved ones to stay up to date on your progress. A “dog door” can be a real lifesaver if you have a fenced-in backyard, allowing your pet to come and go as he or she needs.
Use the Internet to research all the health care professionals you plan to see once you are ready to leave your home. So consider investing in a sound machine, blackout curtains, and a comfortable mattress or pillow.
Discuss ahead of time with your doctor about how soon you should start walking. Consider starting with short walks and try to gradually work up to 10,000 steps each day.
Even if the therapist only focuses on your feet and legs, the benefit will be to your whole body as you relax and release tension. Write down what you are thankful for, pray, or meditate on the special relationships in your life.