So you have to wear a cast…now what?

When you fracture a bone, a cast can be a very important part of the healing process. It protects the limb and prevents too much movement. And while your cast takes care of you, it’s important to take good care of your cast in return.

Here are some helpful tips to help your limb heal, keep your cast in good condition, and prevent infection:

  1. To reduce swelling and pain, elevate your cast. For a leg cast, lie flat and lift your leg using pillows so it’s 10cm above your heart. For an arm cast, place a pillow on your chest and cross your arm over it.
  2. Wiggle and exercise joints around your cast to improve circulation.
  3. Never scratch under your cast with an object like a coat hanger or knitting needle. If you break the skin under the cast, this can cause serious infection. Instead, try blowing cool air inside with a hairdryer to relieve itch.
  4. When bathing, wrap your cast in a plastic bag and tape it at either end. If your cast gets damp, use the cool setting of a blow dryer to dry it. If it gets wet, call your health care provider. You can also purchase a waterproof cover to seal off your cast. Even if you’ve covered your cast to protect it, don’t submerge it in water.
  5. Keep your cast clean and avoid getting dirt, lotion or powder inside. Use a damp face cloth to wipe around your cast and remove dirt. Wipe a vinegar and water solution around fingers and toes to eliminate bad smells. After wiping around your cast, make sure to dry the area thoroughly.
  6. Don’t drive while wearing a cast. Most insurance companies will not cover you.
  7. Follow your health care provider’s instructions for bearing weight on your cast. That may mean staying off a casted leg, or avoiding carrying a bag using your casted arm.
  8. Pay close attention to how your casted limb feels, and seek medical attention if necessary. Read below for some common concerns.
  9. Last, but certainly not least…NEVER remove your cast.

Get immediate medical help if:

  • Your limb is increasingly swollen or painful
  • Your hand or foot is numb, tingly or burning
  • Fluid is coming from the cast
  • Your skin is turning blue, purple or white
  • You have a fever or chills
  • The cast is rubbing your heel or elbow
  • Your cast is damaged, too loose or too tight
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