When it comes time to use a cane to walk or support you after an injury, don't grab any old stick, advises the American Geriatrics Society.

Getting a cane tailored to your body and needs, and using it properly, is vital to its success and your health, according to the society's president, John Murphy, MD.

"A common use of canes is for arthritis in the hip," said Dr. Murphy. "For patients using a cane for pain in one hip, the cane should be held in the hand opposite the affected leg. The cane should then move forward with the affected leg."

Dr. Murphy offered several tips for selecting a cane…

  • Check the tip: A rubber tip is a must for traction. Check the tip often, and replace it when the tread is worn.

Get a grip: Find one that feels comfortable when held. A person who has arthritis or an injury that affects the fingers and hands might need a specialized grip.

Adjust for your body: When standing, the elbow should be at a 30-degree angle when the cane is held next to the leg. When your arm is at your side, the cane's top should be parallel with your wrist.

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