Caring for Your Cast

Getting used to the splint or cast

Swelling due to your injury may cause pressure in you splint or cast for the first 48 to 72 hours. This may cause your injured arm or leg to feel snug or tight in the splint or cast. To reduce swelling:

  • Elevate your injured arm or leg above your heart
  • Move your uninjured but swollen fingers or toes gently and often.
  • Apply ice to the splint or cast. Place the ice in a dry plastic bag or ice pack and loosely wrap it around the splint or cast at the level of the injury

Warning signs following splint or cast application

After application of a splint or cast, it is very important to elevate your injured arm or leg for 24 to 72 hours. If you experience any of the following warning signs, contact your doctor’s office immediately for advice.

  • Increased pain, which may be caused by swelling, and the feeling that the splint or cast is too tight.
  • Numbness and tingling in your hand or foot, which may be caused by too much pressure on the nerves.
  • Burning and stinging, which may be caused by too much pressure on the skin.
  • Excessive swelling below the cast, which may mean the cast is slowing your blood circulation.
  • Loss of active movement of toes or fingers, which requires an urgent evaluation by your doctor.

Taking care of your splint or cast

After you have adjusted to your splint or cast for a few days, it is important to keep it in good condition. This will help your recovery.

  • Keep your splint or cast dry. Moisture weakens plaster and damp padding next to the skin can cause irritation. Use two layers of plastic or purchase waterproof shields to keep your splint or cast dry while you shower or bathe.
  • Do not walk on a “walking cast” until it is completely dry and hard. It takes about one hour for fiberglass, and two to three days for plaster to become hard enough to walk on.
  • Keep dirt, sand, and powder away from the inside of your splint or cast.
  • Do not pull out the padding from your splint or cast.
  • Do not stick objects such as coat hangers inside the splint or cast to scratch itching skin.
  • Do not apply powders or deodorant to itching skin. If itching persists, contact your doctor.
  • Do not break off rough edges of the cast or trim the cast before asking your doctor.
  • Inspect the skin around the cast. If your skin becomes red or raw around the cast, contact your doctor.
  • Inspect the cast regularly. If it becomes cracked or develops soft spots, contact your doctor’s office.
  • Never remove the cast yourself.