The effectiveness of walking stick use for neurogenic claudication: results from a randomized trial and the effects on walking tolerance and posture

The objective of this study was to determine the immediate effects of using a stick on walking tolerance and on the potential explanatory variable of posture, and to provide a preliminary evaluation of the effects of daily walking stick use on symptoms and function for people with neurogenic claudication. Patients aged 50 years or older with neurogenic claudication symptoms (N=46; 24 women, 22 men, mean age=71.26y) were recruited.  Phase 1 of the trial used the Zurich Claudication Questionnaire symptom severity and physical function scores to measure outcome. The total walking distance during a shuttle walking test and the mean lumbar spinal posture (measured by using electronic goniometry) were used as the primary outcome measurements in the second phase. Forty of the participants completed phase 1 of the trial, and 40 completed phase 2. No significant differences in symptom severity or physical function were shown in score improvements for walking stick users (stick user scores – control scores) in the 2-week trial. In the second phase of the trial, the ratio of the shuttle walking distance with a stick to without a stick showed no significance between the groups. Furthermore, the use of a walking stick did not systematically promote spinal flexion; no significant difference was shown for mean lumbar spinal flexion for stick use versus no stick.

The prescription of a walking stick does not improve walking tolerance or systematically alter the postural mechanisms associated with symptoms in neurogenic claudication

Comer CM, Johnson MI, Marchant PR, et al. The effectiveness of walking stick use for neurogenic claudication: results from a randomized trial and the effects on walking tolerance and posture. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2010 Jan;91(1):15-9.

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