What are the Pros and Cons of an Underarm Crutch?

M. Walker
M. Walker
Underarm crutches may lead to arm strain.
Underarm crutches may lead to arm strain.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to using an underarm crutch to assist with mobility. The main benefits of underarm crutches include convenience for temporary injuries, a large degree of support for the lower body, and low cost. Disadvantages associated with using an underarm crutch include limited upper body freedom, strain on the arms and upper body, and risk of losing balance.

Forearm crutches do not require engaging the whole arm and hand in the act of moving, as underarm ctuches do.
Forearm crutches do not require engaging the whole arm and hand in the act of moving, as underarm ctuches do.

An underarm crutch, sometimes called an axillary crutch, is often the best type of crutch for temporary injuries and disabilities. If an individual’s upper body is strong, then he or she will be able to successfully use underarm crutches for everyday mobility. Not only are these crutches easy to find and replace, they are also good for providing a faster and more adaptable walking speed than other types of crutches.

Underarm crutches can help someone move around at a normal pace while they recover from a temporary injury.
Underarm crutches can help someone move around at a normal pace while they recover from a temporary injury.

Another benefit of an underarm crutch is the fact that this type of crutch provides maximum support for the lower body, especially if only one leg is injured. Many other types of crutches are designed for individuals with permanent disabilities or limited motion, and as a result they allow for partial use of both legs for convenience and strength building. Underarm crutches, however, are designed for temporary injuries that require more rest and have a lower ability to tolerate bearing weight.

Forearm crutches offer greater stability and control than do underarm crutches.
Forearm crutches offer greater stability and control than do underarm crutches.

Cost is another benefit of using an underarm crutch, and are about half the price of many other types of crutches. Since an underarm crutch is made out of wood or lightweight metal and rubber, it is relatively inexpensive to produce. There is little customization of this type of crutch other than height, which further reduces the cost.

One of the main disadvantages of underarm crutches is the fact that they limit upper body freedom to a large degree. Individuals using this type of crutch must engage their whole arms and hands in the act of moving, unlike individuals using forearm crutches. This can also place undue strain on the arms and upper body, which can lead to sores or even crutch paralysis, a condition in which the nerves under the arms are pinched.

Forearm crutches are typically designed for individuals with permanent disabilities.
Forearm crutches are typically designed for individuals with permanent disabilities.

Risk of losing balance is also more pronounced in individuals using an underarm crutch. Individuals using leg braces, platform crutches, or elbow crutches will generally use both legs to a degree, but those using underarm crutches generally only use one leg to walk, along with the two crutches. This puts them at a higher risk for falls and sprains, as it is more difficult to maintain balance with these types of crutches.

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    • Underarm crutches may lead to arm strain.
      By: Lisa F. Young
      Underarm crutches may lead to arm strain.
    • Forearm crutches do not require engaging the whole arm and hand in the act of moving, as underarm ctuches do.
      By: BlueSkyImages
      Forearm crutches do not require engaging the whole arm and hand in the act of moving, as underarm ctuches do.
    • Underarm crutches can help someone move around at a normal pace while they recover from a temporary injury.
      By: AVAVA
      Underarm crutches can help someone move around at a normal pace while they recover from a temporary injury.
    • Forearm crutches offer greater stability and control than do underarm crutches.
      By: lightwavemedia
      Forearm crutches offer greater stability and control than do underarm crutches.
    • Forearm crutches are typically designed for individuals with permanent disabilities.
      By: CandyBox Images
      Forearm crutches are typically designed for individuals with permanent disabilities.
    • The risk of falling may be greater among people who use underarm crutches.
      By: Pix by Marti
      The risk of falling may be greater among people who use underarm crutches.