It is very important to keep the swelling down. This will lessen pain and help your injury heal. To help reduce swelling, please follow the instructions given below:
Elevation. It is very important to elevate your injured arm or leg for the first 24 to 72 hours. Prop your injured arm or leg up above your heart level by putting it on pillows or some other support. You will have to recline if the splint or cast is on your leg.
Exercise. Gently move your swollen fingers or toes often. Moving them often will prevent stiffness.
Ice. 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. Ice that is packed in a rigid container and touches the cast at only one point will not be effective. Also, make sure your cast does not become wet as it will weaken the plaster of Paris.
Swelling creates a lot of pressure under your cast. This can lead to problems. If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor’s office immediately for advice.
- Increased pain and the feeling that the splint or cast is too tight. This may be caused by swelling.
- Numbness and tingling in your hand or foot. This may be caused by too much pressure on the nerves.
- Burning and stinging. This may be caused by too much pressure on the skin.
- Excessive swelling below the cast. This may mean the cast is slowing your blood circulation.
- Loss of active movement of toes or fingers. This requires an urgent evaluation by your doctor.
- Taking Care of Your Splint or Cast
- Any fever/ broken plaster – report to your doctor immediately
Your doctor will explain any restrictions on using your injured arm or leg while it is healing. You must follow your doctor’s instructions carefully to make sure your bone heals properly. The following information provides general guidelines only, and is not a substitute for your doctor’s advice.
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.
- Walking casts. 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.
- Avoid dirt. Keep dirt, sand, and powder away from the inside of your splint or cast.
- Padding. Do not pull out the padding from your splint or cast. Inspect the cast regularly. If it becomes cracked or develops soft spots, contact your doctor’s office.
- Itching. Do not stick objects such as coat hangers inside the splint or cast to scratch itching skin. Do not apply powders or deodorants to itching skin. If itching persists, contact your doctor.
- Trimming. Do not break off rough edges of the cast or trim the cast before asking your doctor.
- Skin. Inspect the skin around the cast. If your skin becomes red or raw around the cast, contact your doctor.