The do’s & don’ts of using crutches

So I have been on crutches now for about four months. In those 4 months I have have had a few mishaps and a few victories. I am going to share some do’s and don’ts of using crutches that I have oh so eloquently learned over the last few months. Now I am not the most graceful of people to begin with so stick me on crutches and there is bound to be issues. Also, I am referring to auxiliary crutches as in the image above not elbow (forearm) crutches so keep that in mind.

  1. 1) Don’t go by the height on the crutches, have them properly fitted to you by a trained physiotherapist or at the very least watch some videos on how to properly fit crutches. My first set of crutches I had in the beginning were youth crutches. As I am only 5 foot and half an inch (yes that 1/2 inch matters) I assumed that youth crutches that go to 5 foot 2 inches would be the right size and that adult crutches that start at 5 foot 2 inches would be too big. I was wrong. If I go by the 2 finger rule (the top of the crutches should be about 2 finger widths below the armpit) then I am actually setting it to 5 foot 3 inches.
  2. 2) Do learn how to properly go up and down stairs. Good foot up, bad foot down. If your hands are big enough (mine aren’t) place both crutches under one arm and use the railing with the other arm or hand one crutch to someone else. It’s best to have someone with you until you get the hang of it. When going up stairs leave your crutches on the current step and bring your good foot up to the step above, push up with your good foot bringing your bad foot and the crutches with you to the next step (that your good foot is already on). When going down leaning forward but looking straight not down (so you don’t loose balance and fall which I did more then once) bring your crutches and bad foot down to the step below and “hop” down to the step holding onto the railing or using your crutch. This is harder then it sounds. I could not do it and had to put some weight (as much as I could bear through my bad foot to be able to get down). I will be honest because my hands are so small I had to have each crutch separate under each arm and hold onto the railing with one. It took a bit of juggling and a few close calls to get the hang of it. YouTube has some great instructional videos.
  3. 3) Don’t walk any more then is necessary and use other means of getting around if you can such as a wheelchair or chair on wheels if you are going to be on them for a long time. It might be tempting at first and sort of a novelty using the crutches. I remember as a kid thinking it was cool but especially if you have a little extra weight or are not in the greatest shape like me you need to conserve your energy, you are going to need it for times when you need to go somewhere and need to use the crutches. Lots of stores have wheelchairs or scooters you can borrow to get around.
  4. 4) Do consider asking your doctor or local department of motor vehicles if a temporary handicap parking permit can be obtained. This will help if you need to go somewhere like a doctors appointment or pharmacy or store and the parking lot is full so that you don’t have to walk as far on crutches. Some people might disagree with this but for me there is no way that I would be able to go anywhere without it, including back to work. It’s okay to need a little help now and then.
  5. 5) Do consider padding the handles and possibly arm rests (is that what they are called?). However don’t just duct tape tea towels/face clothes around them. Extra padding is great if it was made for the crutches. I used these crutch covers from Drive Medical that were made for my crutches which I bought at Wal-mart. Taping tea towels/face clothes can actually be dangerous. It can put more pressure on your armpits or your hands could slip off the hand grips causing injury.
  6. 6) Don’t skimp on quality. It might be tempting to purchase the cheapest pair you can find however make sure to consider how heavy they are, how sturdy they are (can they hold your weight). You can still buy wooden ones but out of the crutches I have used over the years I find light weigh aluminum to be the best. If you have the option of forearm crutches ask your doctor or physiotherapist if they may be better for you. I have never used them but have heard that they require even more arm strength then the auxiliary kind.
  7. 7) Do feel free to decorate them. If you are going to be on them for a bit have fun with them! If you have a cast decorate it too if you want! Check out Pinterest and YouTube for some great ideas and tutorials. I never did this and kind of regret it but kind of don’t.

Well that’s all I have. I am sure I missed a few things. Crutches don’t have to be cumbersome and depressing. Have a little fun, but be safe.

I’m going back to work!

I received the results of my bone scan today. Thankfully there are no fractures. I do have osteoarthritis in the hip and an impingement which the previous CT and x-ray showed but for now he just wants to keep an eye on that and re-scan in about 6 months. He believes the pain I am experiencing now is not actually stemming from my hip at all but my lower spine and sacral joint where he believes I may have caused some nerve damage which is affecting my left hip, thigh and groin as I have some numbness on the outside and inside of my upper leg and hip area as well as pain.

He wants to start me on Lyrica at a low dose for a few months to see if that helps with the pain. As I have Fibromyalgia and have been on medications before I am familiar with Lyrica and have been on it at higher doses before. My only concern is the side effects. I was never a fan of them before. Hopefully I can keep it a rather low dose. Between my doctor and pharmacy team I am going to stress I want the dose as low as possible. I can deal with some breakthrough pain as long as it is under control. I just don’t want super heavy side effects.

If this doesn’t help I am going to push for them to look into this more. I don’t know if there is a way to confirm nerve damage and where exactly it is. Sometimes it’s hard cause I am always in pain somewhere and it can be hard to isolate an injury from something else. I thought I had gotten pretty good at living with the pain but sometimes things happen that aggravate or cause other issues that are unrelated but cause more pain. He mentioned I may need more testing and see other specialists. I am not sure what other specialist I can see, I guess a neurologist maybe?

The good news in all of this is that I can go back to work ASAP. I am expecting a call tomorrow from the short term benefits company and we already talked about me starting back this week coming or next on a graduated return. Which would be: 1st week – 3 days x 4 hours, 2nd week – 5 days x 4 hours, 3rd week 5 days x 6 hours and 4th week back to normal. As I am still on crutches for the time being and still in a considerable amount of pain when sitting I am okay with that. I will be weaning myself off crutches as I start on medication at my own pace, he told me to push it a little but not overdue it and take some time to get off them completely. I have a temporary handicap parking tag as well for 6 months to allow me some time to heal. Hopefully it won’t take that long.

He also suggested no physio at the moment as he is concerned that they might aggravate it more if I get a physiotherapist that is not as versed in nerve pain. I think the physiotherapist over the summer I was seeing would be able to handle it and would actually help a lot but I will wait and see how the medication works, besides my $750 a year for physio is pretty much gone so why start something I can’t afford to finish.

I am also going to be possibly switching insulin as well from Basaglar to Toujeo as the Basaglar stings and burns like crap. Last night after injecting it in my thigh it hurt for an hour! I mentioned that while I was there and he said he thought Toujeo would be a better option and is still only once a day. Mom’s on it and I asked her and she said she has not had any issues with it stinging other then occasionally for a second or two as it is going in, not a burning so bad you are rubbing your leg to get it to stop which you should not be doing kind of burn.

Orthopedic Specialist

I saw the orthopedic specialist a week ago. We didn’t wait all that long in the waiting room before going in which was nice. He started off by reviewing my x-rays of my knee, femur and hip and then the CT scan of my hip. I noticed on both the x-ray and CT of my hip he kept absentmindedly circling the top of my femur with his pen. He never said anything though initially. He gave me a gown and left the room.

After changing into the gown and waiting a few minutes he came back and asked me to climb up on the table. Not an easy feat when on crutches and unable to put full weight on my leg. After a few minutes of fumbling with the help of my husband I was able to get up and lay down. He started out with my uninjured leg and moved it around in the hip socket a bit and asked me if it hurt. It did but not on that side it just hurt some on the injured side as he was moving me around on the examination table a bit. Then he moved on to my injured side.

I thought I was gonna die. The pain was so extreme I screamed and screamed. He asked me where it hurt. I told him where. It was mostly in my groin on the inside top of my thigh but some just on the top and on the side of my hip as well stretching around to the back. The pain in my groin area was so bad though. He didn’t do anything else after that. He just told me to get down and change back into my clothes.

After this he came back and said he was really concerned about my hip. He thought I might have an occult (hidden) fracture in my hip somewhere despite what the report with he x-ray and CT scan said. He looked at my CT scan for a few more minutes and then said “Yeah, I think we need to do more testing on your hip”. So now I have to go for a bone scan. Which from my understanding is a CT scan but with a radioactive substance that will highlight any fractures, even if they have been there a few weeks or months or even years. It will show other anomalies as well such as bone regrowth, tumors, etc.

He told me to continue using crutches and keeping the weight bearing to a minimum with the crutches. I can put down the leg to help steady myself and to ensure my knee and ankle don’t get stiff and sore again as they are still healing as well but he said not to put full weight on it and be really careful as if there is a fracture one wrong move including just twisting or stepping on it wrong could be catastrophic and cause a really bad break.

I had a further talk with my family doctor yesterday and he filled out paperwork to see if we can extend my short term a bit longer and keep me at home. Getting to and from work is an issue and sitting is an issue as I can not sit very long at a 90° angle. I start to hurt so much. I can’t do physio or anything yet. So hopefully they wont give me a hard time about it. I have to recline at like a 135° angle to get some pain relief or stand with the crutches which is hard in itself.

My family doctor gave me paperwork to get a temp accessible parking pass and I am using a wheelchair for longer distances so I can at least go to Walmart for an hour or so with my husband to get out occasionally. But an hour at Walmart just tires me out and causes a lot of pain so I am mostly just home trying to keep the pain under control with tylenol and ibuprofen. They won’t even give me anything else until they know what it is. He also mentioned that if it turns out there is a fracture there I will need to have surgery to insert a rod and pins/screws etc as it will not heal on it’s own unless I spend 3-4 months on strict bed rest. Which is not an option and they don’t recommend unless you can’t have surgery for medical reasons.

Leaves me in a bit of a predicament though, on one hand I hope that it is not fractured so that I can get on with my life, however as I am experiencing the pain and they can not find a reason that’s not really getting on with my life or on the other hand you hope that they can tell you yes it’s fractured, here’s what we are gonna do and by this time next year you will be back to normal after surgery and time to heal.

It’s left me frustrated beyond belief, more frustrated then I have ever been before. Even the time leading up to the diabetes diagnosis and the other health issues weren’t this frustrating.