Different Types of Walking Canes

Walking canes are aids that improve balance for those who have problems with walking.

Making the correct choice from the different types of walking canes available can make a massive difference in the support you get. 

We’ll tell you everything you need to know before buying this, often indispensable walking aid. Check our contents list below. 

Or you can opt to see our picks for best walking canes directly.

Proper Cane Use

Before you start using your cane, make sure you correctly adjust it to your height—A cane that is too low or too high for you will provide less balance. 

Don’t place the cane too far away from the body while walking, as this will make you lean forward or sideways and can lead to a fall or strain injury. 

You should always hold the cane in the opposite hand to your injury or affected side. Lean your weight through the arm on your healthy leg side to relieve pressure from the affected leg or foot. First, stepping forward with the non-affected foot, advance the cane simultaneously with the injured leg.

Check this video to learn more about how to use a walking cane properly:

If you have a problem maintaining your balance while walking with a cane, you might consider getting a quad cane, which is more stable. If this still doesn’t improve your mobility, then a walker may be necessary.

Different Types Of Walking Canes

a few types of canes
Types of Canes

These are all the different types of canes you can choose from, depending on your health condition and needs:

Single Point Cane

Single point cane is the most basic and commonly used type of cane. They have one tip on the end, and their main purpose is to give extra contact with the ground to improve balance. They’re not appropriate for people who need assistance with weight-bearing after an injury or surgery.

They’re usually made out of wood or aluminum and typically come in two different styles. The Derby-style has a straight handle that resembles a walking stick and an offset style similar to the standard cane except the shape positions your weight over the cane’s axis. 

Folding Cane

The folding cane has a single point and typically comes with a Derby-style handle. They are adjustable and can be compactly folded when you’re not walking. This comes in handy for storage and travel.

Cane With Seat

Yes, walking canes can also come with a seat. They’re sturdy medical-grade walking canes, usually made of aluminum, that can be unfolded whenever the user needs to rest. Some seat canes even come with padding for more comfort. They are a perfect option for those of you who need frequent rests while outside walking.

Quad Cane

Quad canes are also known as 4-prong canes and are suitable for people who have more issues with their mobility and need more support. That’s why we think it is the best cane for balance.

A typical quad cane comes with a broad rectangular base and four small support points. Some have a wider base and some have a small one.

Generally, the wide base quad cane is more helpful with stability.

Umbrella Cane

Umbrella canes are super practical canes, as they’re a cane and umbrella all in one. They are usually inconspicuous and indistinguishable from a regular umbrella when closed, but they’re strong enough to give additional weight support.

They are the best pick for those who are still active, even with moving limitations, and like to spend a lot of their time outdoors. 

Self-defense Cane 

The self-defense cane offers both stability and security. It gives you a way to protect yourself if someone attempts to attack you. If you often feel insecure, it will offer you peace of mind.

They come in different types and styles, including taser canes, sword canes, the classic shillelaghs. You could use it as a weapon if something bad happened.

Cane Handle Types

When you’re looking for a suitable cane for you, you should also consider what type of cane handle is best for your needs. 

T-Handle Cane

T handle cane
T handle

T-handle canes are one of the oldest handles around and are shaped like a “T,” hence the name. They’re also called straight-handle-canes and are perfect for users with arthritis or other health conditions that cause them to have weakness in their fingers and hands, as the handle is specially designed to reduce stress and hand fatigue.

Crook Cane

crook handle cane
Crook handle

The most standard shape of handles is the crook handle. This handle allows the user to find the most comfortable position while walking, and it’s also easy to hook it over your arm when not needed. It can be beneficial with opening the doors, too. 

Fritz Cane

Fritz Cane
Fritz cane

It’s quite similar to the T-handle cane, but the extra curve on the top makes it a perfect gadget for users with arthritis. You will feel more comfortable and experience less pressure and strain on your hand and fingers.

Derby-Style Handle Cane

Derby-style handle
Derby-style handle

Derby-style cane handles are named after Lord Derby. They have an elegant style with a compact grip. They are often made with high-quality wood and make you feel good about yourself while using them.

Offset Handle Cane

offset handle cane
Offset handle

The offset handle often comes with quad canes with a shape of a question mark. This handle helps to distribute your body weight evenly, helping to improve your balance. For seniors with wrist issues, it is a better option to go.

Handle Grip Types

Handle grip is also important when choosing the perfect walking cane. Holding it for long periods will be more enjoyable and comfortable. There are three different handle grips available on the market:

Orthopedic Grips

The orthopedic grips are custom designed to fit your hand perfectly. They are advisable for those who will use a walking cane for a lifetime or anyone who has orthopedic issues.

Foam Grips

Foam grips are soft, comfortable to use on a daily basis. It is a great replacement if your original cane is wearing out. It often comes with a low price tag.

Gel Grips

Designers make gel grips to reduce stress and fatigue of the hands and fingers. If you’re going to use a walking cane for a long time, the gel material makes the gripping of the cane easier and more comfortable.

Cane Tip Types

Walking cane tip
Walking cane tip

Metal Tip

The metal cane tip is the most durable out of all three. Usually made of stainless steel, they provide excellent traction, especially in the snow, and help prevent slipping on ice. They’re the best choice for those who live in cold climates, with lots of snowy days. 

Rubber Tip

The most commonly used cane tip is the basic rubber cane tip. They provide excellent traction and some of them include a steel insert that increases durability.

Quad Rubber Tip

The Tripod or quad rubber tip is attached to a single tip on the cane but ends with three or four prongs. It offers increased traction and better stability than the basic single rubber tip. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Does Medicare Cover the Cost of Canes?

Medicare may cover the price of a cane for mobility as durable medical equipment (DME) under Medicare Part B insurance. Check with your doctor, and be sure your DME supplier is enrolled with Medicare before buying.

How Do I Choose the Right Length Cane?

You can determine the correct length of the cane, by holding your arms at your side, with a natural bend in your elbows (around 15 degrees), and have somebody else measure the distance between your arm and the floor. The top of the cane should line up with the crease in your wrist.  

This will be the right fit for you to walk as comfortably as possible with a walking cane.  However, you can adjust most modern plastic and metal canes today to your ideal height, so you don’t need to determine the correct length before you buy.

When Should I Use a Walking Cane?

Several different health conditions may require you to use a walking cane for support and balance. These include:

  • After a knee surgery
  • After a stroke
  • After a simple leg fracture or twisted ankle
  • If your limited balance impairs your ability to walk 

Even without the reasons mentioned above,It’s best if you ask yourself these four simple questions: 

  1.  Do you experience pain in your limbs and joints while walking? 
  2.  Do you frequently look for a supportive fixture for balance or to steady yourself while walking?
  3.  Are you finding it difficult to walk up and down a flight of stairs or uneven grounds?
  4.  Does walking drain you completely and take excessive physical exertion?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then it might be a time that you consider getting a walking cane for yourself.

With any health condition that prevents safe, functional mobility, it’s best that you start using a walking stick or a cane. Sometimes you’ll need to use a cane for a short time until your body fully heals, and sometimes, it’ll be permanent, depending on your health condition.  

What’s The Difference Between a Walking Stick and a Walking Cane?

The main difference between the two is their function. Walking sticks are a temporary or casual solution device used for balance and stability while climbing, hiking or walking on rough terrains.

However, walking canes are medical mobility aids specially designed to help balance, stabilize, and take the pressure off painful joints and limbs on a long-term basis.

Walking canes are also much safer, durable, and comfortable to use for long periods.

What Is The Best Type of Cane?

With so many different types of canes available on the market, it might be hard to decide.

Suppose you have balance problems, weakness in your legs, arthritis, or any other health condition that affects your walking and balance. In that case, you should seek guidance from your doctor or a professional physiotherapist.

People with arthritis or those with minor health and mobility problems will only need single-point canes in most cases. 

Still, those with neurological impairment, significant weaknesses in the legs, or balance limitations would need to use a quad cane since they can handle more weight and offer better balance.

It really depends on you, whether you use a cane just for a fashion statement, low mobility problems, or have no choice and use it for more severe health conditions. There is no “best type” of cane to use. The best is the one that most suits you and your needs. 

The Bottom Line

Which cane you choose depends entirely on you and your needs. There are some major features you should consider before buying one, as it could impair your walking significantly and even end in a fall. 

If you feel the medical need for a cane. In that case, It’s best to seek a professional opinion before deciding to buy one, as the doctor will do several tests to determine how impaired your balance and walking is and thus give you the best advice.

Ensure that you choose the proper length of cane and a suitable, comfortable grip that will give you more stability. 

Cherry Yang

Cherry is the editor-in-chief of Mobility With Love. She obtained a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology and a master's degree in Adapted Physical Activity. Her expertise includes biomechanics, biochemistry, nutrition, disability studies, and so on.

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