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In order to deal with the pain and weakness in his right thigh, House carries a cane with him pretty much wherever he goes. He can hobble short distances without a cane, but rarely does he go very long without one by his side. Only a few times has he gone without a cane for long: at the start of the third season, while he was under the effects of the ketamine treatment; and for a time in the fifth season, when he switched from Vicodin to methadone to ease his leg pain. In "Needle in a Haystack", he switches to a wheelchair to make a point about his parking space. And in "Now What?" he spends the entire day at home and does not use a cane.

House is not above using the cane for other purposes. He has struck people with it on more than one occasion, but to be fair in more than one instance the blow was used for diagnostic purposes. He likes to use it to knock on doors, hold elevators open and push aside privacy curtains. He has also used it to gain sympathy on more than one occasion.

As was noted by his physiotherapist, House does not use the cane in the correct hand - a person should hold the cane in the hand on the same side as the healthy leg and use it as a prop to take weight off of the bad leg. House's use of the cane merely puts more pressure on his bad right leg and transfers much of the weight supported by the leg to his right shoulder rather than his left leg. Series creator David Shore has disputed this notion somewhat, though. He was quoted in one interview:

"It was a big issue early on about which hand he holds the cane in. The thought was he should hold the cane in the opposite arm from the injury. That is basically true — most people use the opposite arm. But some people feel more comfortable with a cane in the dominant arm, and that is acceptable." [1]

The decision to have the character House carry a cane was made even before the part was cast. The creators, producers and writers were sure that a handicap of some sort should be integral to the main character, but there was an argument about how it should be depicted. At first, it was proposed House should be confined to a wheelchair (which worked in the television series Ironside about a crippled detective). However, it was soon realized that limiting the character's mobility in this way would severely restrict the way the character could be used. The second idea was to use a scar, but this posed problems with makeup (although on a couple of occasions we see House's scarred leg). Once a cane was accepted another problem cropped up - a cane takes a couple of inches off of the height of the character when it's being used, and in moving shots it was important that House stand out. That required the casting of a very tall actor who would still stand out while using a cane.

House's Canes[]

In reality, almost 100 canes were used during the production of the series, many of which were broken or lost during the course of the series. However, a list of some of the more significant canes House has used over the series run would include the following:

  • 1st Cane: A dark wood cane with an Opera handle, metal collar and black rubber tip. House used this cane through most of the first season, starting in "Pilot" and going through "Babies and Bathwater". Its disappearance is never explained in the show.
  • 2nd Cane: A walnut cane with a Derby handle, metal collar and black rubber tip. This is the cane pictured with House on the Season 1 and Season 2 DVD covers. House first uses it in Season 1's "Kids", when visiting Cameron. She asks about it, and he jokes that it is "slimming". This cane was destroyed by Wilson as revenge for a prank House played on him, in Season 2's "Safe". House tapes it up but eventually replaces it.
  • 3rd Cane: The Alpacca Feather cane, which has a "J" hook handle (also called a Tourist handle), dark wood shaft and rubber tip. This is a cane House seems to save for special occasions. It was first seen briefly in Season 1's "Sports Medicine" as a cane House used when taking Cameron to a monster truck rally. House used it the entire Season 2's "All In". This cane is also seen briefly in Season 6's "Wilson" as a cane House has retrieved from his apartment, and in Season 7's "Small Sacrifices", as the cane House uses at Sanford Wells's wedding party.
  • 4th Cane: A simple, unadorned walnut cane with a Tourist handle and black rubber tip. It makes its first appearance in Season 2's "Sleeping Dogs Lie". House used this cane through the remainder of Season 2, and returned to it when the ketamine treatment wears off at the beginning of Season 3. This cane was taken from him by a hospital physiotherapist, who tells him it's not "proper equipment" in Season 3's "Whack-a-Mole". She gives him a "quad cane", a cane with four tips. The cane, or one like it, reappears in Season 5's "The Social Contract", when House resumes using a cane after discontinuing the methadone treatments. He continues to use it through to the end of Season 6. It was left in the rubble of the collapsed building in "Help Me".
  • 5th Cane: A foldable, adjustable cane, with a wooden Derby handle and black rubber tip. House trades a hospital patron the quad cane for this one in "Whack-a-Mole". It's eventually ruined by Wilson's dog Hector, who chews through the handle, causing it to break on House in the episode "Family".
  • 6th Cane: The "Flame Cane". House makes Wilson purchase him a new cane in "Family". House selects a wooden cane, painted black, with a Tourist handle and black rubber tip, with flame decals coming about a third of the way up the shaft. He jokes the flames make him look like he's going faster. House has this cane quite awhile, through the remainder of Season 3 and most of Season 4. He loses it in the bus crash at the end of Season 4 in "House's Head". He has to resort to a hospital crutch for awhile. This cane was available at auction for UK based women's charity, Eaves, until 19th October 2012.
  • 7th Cane: Similar to the 4th Cane, but a lighter maple color. This cane is used at the end of Season 4 and through most of Season 5. It's pictured on the Season 5 DVD cover. House tosses this cane in a dumpster in Season 5's "The Softer Side", after he reveals to Wilson he is using methadone and it has eliminated the pain in his leg. When House resumes using a cane, he reverts to the 4th Cane, or one like it.
  • 8th Cane: House's first new cane since Season 4, this one was named by Taub the "Death's Head Cane". House only uses it for a couple of episodes. It has a black wood shaft, and a knob at the top with a silver skull. It's first seen in Season 3's "Family", as a cane House passes over in favor of the "Flame Cane". It is first used by House in Season 7's "Selfish".
  • 9th Cane: House's current cane, first seen in Season 7's "Massage Therapy". House comments on getting a new cane to lean on just as Chase has hired a new fellow. It's similar to the 4th and 7th Canes but looks to be made of rosewood. House keeps it until the series finale where he loses it in the burning building.
  • In the zombie dream in Bombshells, House's cane serves extra duty as a shotgun, axe and flashlight.

Replicas of some of House's canes can be purchased online at Fashionable Canes. The show has also been known to auction off used canes for charity.[1][2]

In the Facebook game House M.D. - Critical Cases, different types of canes are collectible rewards.