When a cast is cared for properly, it can be an extremely effective tool in protecting injured bones and tissues. In order to receive a successful recovery when using a cast, it’s important to know what symptoms are normal and what symptoms require assistance from a health care provider.
Watch the video above for Dr. Jason Pirozzolo’s tips on cast care and read about a list of common signs and symptoms to look out for when wearing a cast, below.
Pain and swelling:
- When dealing with pain and swelling, take pain medicine as prescribed and elevate your arm above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
- If your provider has given you a sling for your arm, wear it to keep the injured part elevated. Wiggling your fingers can also reduce swelling and stiffness.
- Most cast problems and cast irritation arise from over using the extremity and not resting it properly.
- A cast should never get wet.
- A fiberglass cast won’t fall apart but the padding underneath may start to smell if it gets wet.
- Wet padding may also hurt your skin.
- You should bathe using a wet washcloth, rather than taking a shower or bath.
- If you are going to be near water (even rain), put your cast in a heavy plastic bag. Hold the bag in place with a rubber band and try not to get the bag wet. If your cast does get wet, you can dry it with a hair dryer. If your cast gets wet and it doesn’t feel dry after 4 or 5 hours, call your health care provider.
- The DryPro Waterproof Cast Cover is a great product to use in the event that your cast will be near water. You can purchase the cast cover here.
- Many people deal with itching inside a cast. Never reach inside a cast with your fingernails or another object to scratch. It may injure your skin and cause an infection.
- Sometimes shaking a small amount of talcum powder inside a cast, or using a hair dryer on a cool setting, helps relieve the itching.
- If itching persists, you may use over the counter Benadryl as directed.
- How active you can be depends on your injury.
- You should avoid riding a bike or playing sports.
- Ask your doctor about what activities you can safely do.
After my cast is put on what problems should I watch for?
Contact your doctor immediately if you have any of these problems…
Signs of problem swelling include:
- You have severe or persistent pain.
- Your fingers or toes feel numb, painful or can’t move.
- The color of your fingernails or toenails change.
Sometimes the body part inside a cast can become infected. Signs of infection include:
- Drainage from the skin under the cast.
Call your doctor if the cast feels too loose or too tight.
Dealing with an upper extremity injury or issue? Call (407) 841-2100 or click here to request an appointment with one of our doctors.