if/when/how to get a walking aid

Hi everyone,

Firstly thank you in advance for reading my post and hopefully for offering some advice.

First encounter I had head to toe left side numbness with diziness… admitted to hospital…lots of tests…mri’s and lumber puncture results confirmed suspected ms but needed a second episode to make it official. Second relapse two months later with L’hermittes.

​ Although I have recovered slightly on my left side it is still quite weak and walk like a drunk! I also have drop foot and wear a brace, I am very greatfull that I have physio to help get my strength and balance back but I was wondering how I go about getting a walking aid. My physio hasn’t recommended one so does this mean I don’t need one. Do I need to ask for one or do I need to just go buy a stick? I think it would help with fatigue too.


I used to have physio years ago and it was them that suggested a stick might help as walking was getting to be hard work. I couldn’t believe the difference. My balance was going and it helped that more than anything. Still does.

Try it, see how you get on. Having one doesn’t mean you have to use it all the time. Get a folding stick so you haven’t got to have it out all the time, but its there as and when you need it. You might find that some days you don’t need it at all but at the end of a shopping trip, it could save you stumbling.

It also tells people that you are not drunk after all, and makes them aware you need a bit of consideration.



I was given a stick and a year or so later a rollator by my Neuro Physio. I hope the same service applies all over this wonderful country of ours. If yours doesn’t offer ask him/her if using one would help you with your walking problems.

Good luck

Jan x

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In my opinion a FES is far superior to any brace, because they can actually build muscle strength.

I got my crutches from my neuro physio they can get them for you.

You might like to try a hiking pole (or two). I used to use mine for hiking! I suppose that re-purposing them as means of just getting around counts as a life-hack, but not in a trendy way, alas. Nevertheless, they look less ‘old lady’ than walking sticks. They help me to get around faster and with much more confidence and make an amazing difference in crowded places - people automatically give a person with a walking aid a wide berth.

And please don’t think that, once you use an aid, you’ll need it always. If you are recovering from a relapse, there’s a good chance that you will recover enough function not to need it. Working on your core strength etc will help you too. Using a walking aid when you do need it will not hamper your recovery - particularly when you have a physio whom you can ask to check that you are using it properly. For instance, the physio can check that your pole(s) is (are) the right length, and that you are using them to walk as properly as you can and minimising ‘that old MS-swing’ in which you swivel hips and pelvis to heave legs out and round (does that make sense?) I expect you know what I mean…



I used to use a stick as a way of saying that I was not quite (physically) stable. It was interesting how many people would try to walk between me and the stick. The FES came soon afterward.

A physio got me on to two sticks, that got me more upright and cut down on the load on one hip.

Two years later, another physio (proper neuro trained this time) persuaded me to try a tri-walker (three wheeled rollator) (the choice of little old ladies everywhere). I found it was slower, but felt safer, and I was more upright front-to-back as well as side-to-side. So she had one delivered. I got used to it in the house - put it in the boot of the car, and went out and bought another for the house. I only use sticks to get from the house to the car.

Without any aids, I am good for about a metre without support. With my FES and the tri-walker, this goes up to about 200 metres before fatigue sets in.

There is another member at the MS Therapy Centre I attend who has gone for the “hiking pole” solution. Provided he takes things slowly, they keep him upright as well.


i agree with a lot of what has been said, especially Alysea who mentioned physio. i was given a zimmer frame and traded it in for a crutch which i use when out and about. physio has done some good, but my left hand side is stilll not great, but have got 2nd lot of steroids next week which will hopefully help with my right hand. i have got a walking stick which is somewhere about the house, but the crutch gives arm support as well which is appreciated when out.

sorry my post is a bit boring, but i hope that may be of some use, best wishes with nice hugs, fluffyollie

I’m only in my 30s but without it I can’t walk at all, I have had quite a few falls when I don’t use them, so I stick to using them I have 2 pairs one for upstairs and down physio can also give wheelchair and other aids around house I refused the chair and now comes a time when I need it, ah well x

Hello Madmom,

Sounds like you definitely need a walking aid. Is there a MS Therapy Centre near you? People there will be able to help and advise. Have a look around the website Put something into the search bar, all sorts of ideas

There are all sorts of things that can help. Basically the cheaper it is the more likely it will be supplied to you. Walking stick is a sensible start. Hiking poles are good because you can use them to give you some momentum. The problem with sticks and poles is they are not much use if your balance is bad and impossible to carry anything so use a knapsack

Assorted foot-ups will help with foot drop. I used a MuSmate for many years and also had an orthosis. A rollator is really useful. Get one with four wheels, seat and basket. Basically the more you spend the better the choice, reasonable ones start at about £150.

I did not find a wheelchair any help at all, they have a mind of their own. Mobility scooters, I reckon the best value for money is the Travelscoot

The ultimate solution is a FES (functional electrical stimulator). As far as I can gather they are lent to you so no cost to the local health authority, at least that is what happened to me. I got mine through Queen Sq, London, the supplier is Odstock they are based in Salisbury.

I hope you find something helpful


I used to only use a stick it was rubbish I still fell every now and then I was going to be getting a FES for foot drop but my walking was too bad so was given physiotherapy and 2 crutches for the time being, the crutches are amazing what a difference I do not notice the foot drop now the crutches have sorted that I have walked further with the crutches than I have for a long time so I highly recommend 2 crutches made me feel more secure can even stop to look at things or talk to somebody without looking for a seat so have made a huge difference

Another shout for FES

Hi Madmom

I’m in the FES club as well, in mid December I was granted the funding of the device which went through my local MS therapy centre and I now use a wireless version with a leg cuff. The cuff takes all the hit and miss out of where to place the gel pads, something we all seem to struggle with for the first few weeks and going wireless tidies up the whole thing!

I would recommend starting the process via a therapy centre as it’s not always beneficial to everyone, but their physiotherapists will help you discover whether it’s good for you or not.

Hope you get on with it as it really help with my gait, albeit I still take a stick where ever I go if only as a signal to others that I’m no longer 100% when on my feet.

Good luck


Hi Madmom,

Sorry to hear about your diagnosis and walking difficulties.

I got a toe off brace through my consultant which I use when wearing trousers.

I also bought a folding stick which I use occasionally usually if I’m struggling and as a sign to other people that I’m not drunk!

You can get some really jazzy sticks online.

I bought mine online. Think the handle should come to your wrist, I’m only 5’3’’ so needed a short one!

MS nurse is a good start to get physio and then they will recommend equipment.

Good luck

Jen x

Thanks everyone for replying, some great advice. I will definitely have a look online to see what’s available.

I think part of the trouble is I’m not sure I’m ready to admit I need help, maybe posing the question here is the first step! and maybe my neuro physio will recommend something when I get a bit more steady on my feet.

Best of luck to all x