The Do’s and Don’ts of Cast Care
When you break a bone or tissue in your body becomes injured, your primary care or orthopedic provider may prescribe a cast to immobilize the bone above and below the joint nearest to the injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, your provider will choose either fiberglass or plaster for the cast material.
- Fiberglass casts are lighter, stronger, and allow for better x-rays if needed during the healing process.
- Plaster casts are less expensive and heavier. Plaster casts have the ability to mold it into a shape that offers better support for the injury.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Cast Care
Ideally, you want to remain injury- and cast-free. However, if you find yourself with a cast on after an injury, keep in mind these essential Do’s and Don’ts of cast care.
DO take it easy.
During the first few weeks following your fracture, you’re going to want to take it easy and avoid bumping or putting any pressure on the injured area.
DON’T get your cast wet.
Most people know not to get their casts wet. Plaster casts, for instance, can potentially disintegrate if they get wet. Additionally, water will make fiberglass casts less effective. To prevent water from damaging your cast, cover it with a plastic bag or a cast cover before showering or going outside when it’s raining. It is essential to keep water from getting inside the cast as it can cause an infection, unpleasant odors, or it may even promote mold growth.
DO elevate your injury.
The cast stabilizes your bone by limiting movement. However, casts can also cause constriction if the injury swells. If your leg or arm swells inside your cast, it can cause extreme pain or discomfort, which may cause you to visit your provider to have the cast split or replaced. To prevent the risk of swelling, keep your cast elevated while sitting or sleeping.
DON’T ignore pain or discomfort.
While wearing a cast, experiencing pain, increase swelling, paralysis, numbness or tingling, burning, or stinging is something that should not be ignored as they are not symptoms of healing. Call your healthcare or orthopedic provider.
DO keep your cast clean.
Keeping your cast clean is essential in ensuring it lasts long enough for your injury to heal. Dirt, sand, and other debris can get into your cast and cause issues. If this happens, gently clean the surface of the cast with a clean cloth. You may want to keep your cast covered while eating meals, or if you will be cleaning or doing particularly messy work. If the material of the cast become ragged, visit your healthcare provider to have it trimmed.
DON’T apply lotions, deodorant or powders under the cast.
Although they may seem like an effective solution for itching or odor, applying any lotions, powders, or deodorants to the skin underneath the cast may promote the growth of bacteria, something you don’t want to have to deal with.
DO exercise with approval.
If your leg or arm is in a cast, ask your healthcare provider or orthopedic expert when you can begin moving the muscles near the fracture. Movement and exercise, to an extent, can help circulation and future mobility.
DON’T stick anything inside your cast.
During your recovery, the skin under your cast may itch. While this may cause some discomfort, don’t stick pencils, wooden spoons, or anything else underneath the material in an attempt to relieve itching. Doing so presents a risk of causing damage to your skin, compromising the stability of your cast, or accidentally dropping the item underneath the cast and causing more discomfort.
DO pay attention to odor.
If you notice that your cast smells moldy, rotten, or all-around unpleasant, be sure to schedule an appointment with your provider. A foul smell may be a sign of infection, or there may be an issue with your cast.
DON’T try to take your cast off.
Removing your cast not only compromises healing, but it can also cause injury. Casts are extremely durable. Your healthcare provider has a special saw that vibrates through the cast but does not affect the skin or padding underneath. Using tools you find at home to try to remove a cast can result in serious injury.
DO protect it during sports.
Depending on the severity of a fracture, you still may be able to participate in athletics, such as soccer or football, while wearing a cast. However, certain guidelines require that a cast must be padded to a certain amount of thickness to prevent the hardness of the cast from causing any injuries in gameplay. Both fiberglass and plaster are very hard, so much so that it could potentially be a risk to others on the field. Of course, you must be cleared by your healthcare provider before participating in high school or collegiate athletics while wearing a cast.
The Cast Protector is one of the few foam cast covers that comply with NFSA guideline requirements. This sports cast padding protects other participants on the field from the hard cast or splint of the wearer.
Wearing cast for a few weeks to a few months will help keep fractured bones in the proper position and helps people maintain as much normal movement and functionality as possible. If you ever are prescribed a cast, follow the tips above to ensure you properly care for it.
If you want to protect your cast while participating in sports, be sure to order The Cast Protector! To learn more about our sports cast padding, visit our site or contact us!