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How to be Non-weight bearing
So you have had or are considering foot or ankle surgery, and your doctor has told you that your surgery will require you to be non-weight bearing while you recover.
So what exactly does that mean, and what are your options for getting around after the surgery? What are the best crutches for non weight bearing injuries?
So what does non-weight bearing exactly mean? It refers to restrictions placed on you by your physician not to put repaired foot or ankle on the ground at all. This means no weight at all, not even for a few seconds, regardless if you are standing or seating.
Why touching the ground is so bad
So you might be wondering, why touching the ground is so bad? Most folks don’t know how much weight we are putting on a given foot, even if you are just barely touching the floor.
Any weight on a an operated foot or ankle can damage the repair that was done. Bones obviously need time to heal if they are operated on. If plates or screws were part of the surgery then the bones will need to heal around those plates and screws. Adding any weight can interrupt the healing process.
Surgical wounds always heal better when they are not stressed by weight. Incisions that were used to repair an injury like an Achilles tendon rupture or a fracture can really benefit from non-weight bearing. In the end, any procedures that require surgical cutting will need a period of time to heal with no weight bearing.
Non-weight bearing also helps in the reduction of swelling, which is very common with ankle or foot surgeries. Keeping the swelling down will help you heal more quickly. RICE is a good technique to use after these types of surgeries.
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What are my options for getting around?
You really have several options for being mobile if you have been told to keep weight off an injury.
Crutches – Most people are familiar with crutches. At some point in time you have seen someone who has been on crutches, or maybe you have had to use them for a minor injury such as a sprain or muscle strain.
Many people use crutches after surgery, to keep the affected foot or ankle off the ground. The most common type of crutch is the underarm crutches made of wood or aluminum. Crutches that adjust are very important. Below is an example of a basic set of crutches.
Hugo Lightweight Adjustable Aluminum Crutches
Knee Scooters or Knee Walkers – The knee walker or scooter is a scooter that has a knee pad and wheels. It allows you to place your knee on the pad and roll your self around. I am sure most you have seen a few of these at sporting events or theme parks, as they allow you to move much more freely and easily than crutches. Below is an example of an excellent knee walker.
Drive Medical Dual Pad Steerable Knee Walker with Basket
Alternative Crutches – are a new group of crutches that have come on the medical scene in the last few years. These might be some of the most innovative additions to not weight bearing recovery. The most noticeable being the iWALK, which is seen below.
The crutch alternatives can sometimes provide a more natural gate and ease of mobility that standard crutches cannot provide.
Things to consider when buying crutches
In order for a crutch to provide a person with the appropriate support to maintain non-weight bearing injury, they need to be used correctly. Take the following into consideration before purchasing crutches
- Strength – All crutches take a certain amount of upper body strength. The arms alone do not hold up the body’s weight when using standard crutches. The weight is in fact distributed throughout the entire upper body.
- Balance – Learning to walk on crutches can be a challenge if you to do have good balance or coordination. Underarm crutches are the most common type of crutch and are the easiest to master. Forearm crutches give greater control, however.
- Fit – It is very important that the crutches fit correctly. You should be able to stand up straight comfortably with your crutches. Make sure the crutches are the correct size for your body. Crutches that don’t fit can lead to abrasions, muscle pain, and possible nerve damage.
- Crutch Tips – The crutch tip is what comes in contact with the ground. They are usually made of rubber and are slip resistant. The crutch tips are very important because they support your weight and keep the crutch balanced. Be sure that the crutch tip is solid and unbroken.
- Crutch Handles – Crutches place a great deal of strain on the wrist and hand of the user. Some crutches feature special handles with extra padding to help alleviate the strain put on the wrist and hand. Some crutches offer specifically shaped handles for the right and left hand. Make sure the handle is comfortable and easy to use for long periods of time.
Best Crutches for Non Weight Bearing
After taking a look at several types of forearm style crutches we felt the Ergobaum Prime 7TH Generation by Ergoactives were the best forearm style crutch we reviewed.
The Ergobaum¨ Prime 7TH Generation really is a premium set of crutches.
- It comes in 9 different colors
- Has an integrated LED light built into each crutch
- Each crutch leg has a built-in shock absorber to help smooth the impact crutches hitting the ground.
- Crutch buzzer horn
- Most felt the shock absorbers were excellent and helped reduce felt impact
- Users liked the adjustable straps that hold the crutches to your arm
- People felt the LED lights were a great bonus especially when you need to use your crutches at night.
- The all-terrain tips were very useful when using the crutches outdoors.
- Most felt the buzzer or crutch horn was not very effective.
- Some felt the crutch was a little heavy, causing the crutches to be harder to move around.
- Several users reported that the shock absorbers became noisy after using the crutches for a while.
Underarm Crutches/Collapsible Crutches
Underarm crutches are the most used crutches when needing a crutch for a non-weight-bearing injury. However underarm crutches have come a long way since the old wooden crutches of the past. They have also gained some cool new features like being collapsible for easy portability. After reviewing several crutches we found the In-Motion Pro Ergonomic Foldable Crutches to be the best underarm/collapsible crutch.
The Millennial Medical In-Motion Pro crutch is a premium underarm/collapsible crutch with some great features:
- Spring assisted tip
- The crutch has articulating crutch tips
- Ergonomic handles and folding capability
- Heavy-duty construction up to 500lb user capacity
- Most users loved the high adjustability of the crutches
- People felt the crutches were great to use both indoors and out, easily handling hard surfaces and grass with no issues
- Users liked that the crutches folded for easy travel
- Some felt the crutches were very heavy, which made carrying them around more difficult
- Users felt the ergonomic handles were a little hard getting used to and might put some added pressure on your palms before you get used to using them
- Most felt the spring assisted tips became noisy after continued use.
So what do you do when normal underarm or forearm crutches won’t work for your situation. Of course, you go looking for an alternative right? We found two alternative crutches that are really great.
The Drive Medical Dual Pad Steerable Knee Walker is one of the best knee walkers in the business.
- Easily get around
- Easy to assemble
- Comes with a basket to place your bag, phone, or tablet
- It’s only designed for below the knee injuries
- While using the knee walker your hands are not free
- You have adequate strength in your other leg to push you around.
iWALK3.0 Hands Free Knee Crutch
When it comes to an innovative crutch alternative the iWALK3.0 takes the cake. The iWALK3.0 works by allowing you to rest your knee or shin on there comfortable padded leg platform. By using the iWALK3.0 you are no longer using your forearms or armpits to support your weight, so say goodbye to the sore and fatigued wrist, forearms, hands, or armpits. Unlike traditional crutches the iWALK3.0 allows your hands to be completely free.
- Hands are Completely Free
- No More Sore Armpits, Forearms, or Hands
- Easily assembly
- Fits people up to 6′ 6″ tall
- Are shorter than 4′ 10″, then iWALK 3.0 is not a good fit
- If you have a knee injury or upper leg injury, and proper knee crutch fitting is needed for best use.
- Users who suffer from balance problems could have issues with the iWALK 3.0
If you have an injury where you think you might need to find the best crutches for non weight bearing then it is important to see a doctor for a checkup. You deserve to feel better and get back to your day-to-day activities. With the right care and treatment plan, you will be back on healthy feet in no time.
- Do you want more information on alternative crutches then check out: Knee Walkers vs Hands Free Crutches
- Are you suffering from achilles tendonitis the check out this post: Best Ankle Brace for Achilles Tendonitis
- As always, remember RICE it helps.