This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice or to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease or condition. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider.
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Types of Casts
A cast is used to keep a part of the body stable and immobile. This is done to prevent movement of the arm or leg so that the broken bone or injured ligaments can heal properly. Minimizing movement with a cast can also reduce pain and protect the injured body part during the healing process.
A cast is made up of two parts; an inner layer of cotton and an outer layer of hard material, which is either made of plaster or of a synthetic fiberglass.
Plaster Casts: These casts are heavier than fiberglass casts and are not waterproof, so they will get ruined and cause irritation to the skin if they get wet. However, plaster casts may be easier to mold than fiberglass casts when molding them onto the body, and they are also less expensive than fiberglass casts.
Fiberglass Casts: These casts are a type of moldable plastic, which is lighter and more breathable than plaster casts. They also come in a variety of bright colors. The fiberglass material is water-resistant but the inside padding material is not, so the cast cannot be submerged into water unless a waterproof liner is used.
- High Fever
- Runny or Stuffy Nose
- Nausea, Vomiting, and/or Diarrhea
- Chills and Sweats
- Muscle Aches, especially in your back, arms and legs
- Loss of Appetite
Cold Symptoms usually appear slowly and can include:
Flu Symptoms usually occur suddenly and can include:
Do’s and Don’ts of Cast Care
If all else fails, ask the doctor if you can take an over the counter antihistamine.
Cleaning Your Cast
Keeping the cast clean is important, but for the occasional mess, like dropping food on your cast or getting it dirty, follow these tips:
For a plaster cast, clean it with a slightly damp towel. Do not get the cast wet, but just wipe it down with a damp towel. Do not use any soap when wiping the cast.
For a fiberglass cast, wipe it with a damp (not wet) towel, but you may also use some soap. You should always wipe the cast afterward to make sure it’s completely dry. You can also use baby wipes to clean the cast.
After wiping down your cast, you can also use a hairdryer on the cool setting to ensure the cast is completely dry.
Removing the Cast
To remove the cast, the doctor will use a ‘cast cutter’ or ‘cast saw’. The cast cutter is a small, electrical saw, but it is not sharp like a typical saw and does not rotate. Instead, it has a dull blade with ‘teeth’ that simply vibrates from side to side at a high speed. The cast cutter does have a loud sound when it’s turned on and you may feel a slight tingling sensation, but it will not cause any pain or cause any harm to the skin. In fact, the cast cutter will only cut the hard part of the cast, leaving the cotton padding inside, intact. Once cut, the cast will be pulled apart by a special tool. The inside padding will then be cut off with scissors and the newly healed arm or leg will be exposed.
The skin may look and feel different. It may look very pale, dry and even scaly. It may also look much weaker and thinner, since that part of the body hasn’t been used for some time and muscle definition may be lost. The joint may also be very stiff at first. The good news however, is that this is all temporary and it will look and feel normal again soon. To remove the dead skin and clean the newly exposed limb, soak it in warm water and use a moisturizing lotion. Do not scrub.
Is it OK to get my cast signed?
Yes, it’s OK for others to sign or draw on the cast, but to keep the cast breathable make sure nobody applies any thick substances like paint onto the cast. This will clog up the pores of the cast and can also damage it by getting it wet.