Cast Care Instructions

Here is some basic information in regards to caring for your new cast.

The outside of your cast is fiberglass. The inside of your cast is usually either a soft cotton material or a waterproof material.

Problems To Watch For

These things can be signs of problems in the cast and should any occur, you should contact our office immediately.

  • If the fingers or toes become discolored, numb, or painful with small movements or if you are unable to move your fingers or toes.
  • If the fingers or toes swell to approximately twice the size of those of the unaffected limb even after rest, ice, elevation, and medication.
  • If a foul odor or fluid is coming from the cast or splint.
  • If you are experiencing a burning sensation or rubbing inside the cast.
  • If the cast cracks or breaks.
  • If the cast becomes too tight or loose. A loose cast may develop into more serious problems, such as pressure ulcers, skin abrasions, or infections.
  • If the cast edges are irritating the skin.
  • If you experience an increase in pain even after rest, ice, elevation, and medication.
  • If you develop a fever.

General Care

  • DO NOT attempt to remove your cast. You could do further damage to your injury or sustain a new injury simply trying to remove the cast.
  • DO NOT put anything in your cast. Sticking something (coat hanger, ruler, etc...) in the cast can scratch the skin, which could lead to an infection. Furthermore, anything you stick in the cast could get stuck, which could also cause skin irritation or an infection. Please contact our office if something gets stuck in your cast.
  • Keeping your cast dry is very important. There are no devices that are 100% effective in keeping any cast dry. Sponge baths are the safest way to keep the cast dry. If you have to take a bath or shower, please follow these instructions.
    • Place a towel or washcloth around the upper portion of the cast.
    • Cover the entire cast with a plastic bag.
    • Secure the bag at the top with tape or a rubber band.
    • If the cast gets moist at the top or bottom, use a blow dryer set to the cool setting to dry the cast.
    • If the cast is soaked all the way through, it needs to be changed and you should contact our office.
    • Please not that these methods will not protect a cast in the pool or when submerged in water and that most insurance companies do not pay for unscheduled cast changes secondary to wet casts.

Waterproof Casts

  • If you were given a waterproof cast, the cast is completely waterproof. You are allowed to submerge the cast in any amount of water. You are free to bathe, shower, and even swim, if it has been approved by your doctor.
  • To make sure your waterproof cast stays clean, please run warm soapy water through the cast as needed.
  • We generally do not put waterproof casts around ankles and elbows because skin irritation and pressure sores may develop in those areas. We also do not use waterproof casts immediately after surgery because of the possibility of infection.

How to manage swelling within the first couple of days of injury:

Swelling is greatest in the first 24-48 hours after the injury. To help minimize swelling in your cast follow these simple instructions.

  • Elevate/raise the cast above the level of the heart.
    • Arm Casts: It's important to raise your hand above the elbow, which should be above your heart. If you just raise the elbow portion on pillows the hand is likely to swell. A simple method is to lie down on your back with the arm out to your side and the fingers pointed up towards the ceiling.
    • Leg Casts: Lie down on your back with the leg propped up on approximately two pillows. Again, the pillows should be under the calf and heel area, not just under the knee.
  • Wiggle your fingers or toes as tolerated.
  • Use your sling intermittently during the first 24-48 hours after injury. Your arm and hand will be below the level of the heart while in the sling and that can increase the initial swelling.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Motrin or Advil can be taken. Take as directed on the bottle. DISCONTINUE IF THIS CAUSES AN UPSET STOMACH.
    • Newest research suggests these medications may negatively interfere with fracture healing. Prolonged use for more than 48 hours in the first 3 weeks after a fracture is not recommended.
  • If these methods fail, your cast may need to be split down the sides to allow for swelling to resolve. Please contact our office and DO NOT attempt to alter or remove the cast yourself.