Cast Care

General instructions

  • Keep the cast dry.
  • If the cast is made of plaster, it will not be completely dry for 24 to 48 hours. If the cast is made of fiberglass, it will not be completely dry for 1 hour. Take care not to bump or hit it before it is completely dry.
  • Do not put anything inside the cast to scratch your skin. You can put ice packs over the cast at any itchy area if your doctor says you may. A hair dryer set on the cool setting may be blown into the cast to relieve itching.
  • Keep an eye on the fingers and toes of the leg or arm with the cast. They should have feeling and be warm and pink. The color and the feeling of the fingers or toes should be the same as the color and feeling of the fingers or toes without the cast. If they are discolored or numb, call your doctor right away.

Arm cast instructions

  • Move your fingers as much as possible.
  • Use your shoulder and elbow as your doctor tells you to.
  • Keep your arm raised above the level of your heart for the first 48 hours.

Long-arm cast instructions

  • Support your arm and wrist with the sling the hospital provides.
  • Keep your arm raised above the level of your heart for the first 48 hours.
  • Raise your arm over your head several times a day to prevent shoulder stiffness.

Leg cast instructions

  • Do not walk on a non-walker cast (one that does not have a cast shoe or cast boot), unless your doctor says you may.
  • Keep the leg with the cast raised above the level of your heart as much as possible for the first 48 hours.
  • Use the crutches or walker provided by the hospital the way your doctor told you to.

Walking cast

  • Put your weight on your cast the way your doctor told you to.
  • Walk as if you have a shoe on. Keep your toes pointing forward.

For all casts

  • Your doctor or nurse will talk to you about how to handle bathing.
  • Be sure to keep your cast dry.

Your doctor will want to know if:

  • The cast becomes too tight, and raising the arm or leg does not relieve the pressure or
  • You have a burning, tingling, or numb feeling under the cast, especially on the heel
  • The cast breaks or becomes wet or soggy; in this case, you will need to return and have it checked. It might have to be removed and a new one put on.

You should call your doctor right away if:

  • The fingers or toes of the arm or leg with the cast become discolored, cool to the touch, and/or become numb or tingle
  • You have constant or increasing pain in the arm or leg with the cast
  • You have any foul-smelling drainage from the cast

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