A plaster cast is used to form a rigid splint and protect fractured or broken limbs,
restricting movement so that your bones may heal.
The cast is applied using water and plaster-of-paris. The chemical reaction causes
the plaster to feel warm, but as the water evaporates it will feel ice cold. It
takes two to three days for a cast to dry and set properly. The plaster may feel
tight for some time after application. It is important not to put weight on it for
at least 48 hours.
- Do not wet your plaster cast - it will become soggy.
- Do not stand your plaster cast on a hard surface during the three days it takes
to dry, e.g. on the floor.
- Do not attempt to cut or remove your plaster cast.
- Do not heat or paint your plaster cast.
- Do not push anything under your plaster cast, as you may damage the skin and cause
- Do not pull out the padding under your cast. It is there to prevent chaffing and
protect your injury.
- Do not walk on a cast until your doctor has fitted a rubber heel. Use your crutches.
- Move your fingers / toes frequently.
- Elevate your limb on one or two pillows or in a sling for as long as instructed
by your doctor.
Remember, if your fingers or toes become blue or white, as well as cold and swollen,
- Keep your limb elevated at the level of your heart
- Move your fingers or toes frequently
When to contact the hospital
Contact the hospital if:
- The above information does not help and you experience a tingling sensation or numbness
in your finger or toes. The plaster cast may be too tight and may need to be split.
- Your cast cracks, becomes loose or feels uncomfortable.
- You are unable to move your fingers or toes.
- There is a recurring burning pain.
- There is a discharge or offensive smell.
- You experience intense pain.
- To ensure that you regain effective use of your limb after the cast is removed,
you must keep it elevated, and exercise the joints and muscles as often as possible.
- Move all joints outside your plaster cast, e.g. shoulder, elbow, fingers.
- Tighten your muscles of your arm inside your plaster cast.
- Straighten your fingers.
- Make a fist.
- Move all joints outside your plaster cast, eg hip, knee, ankle, toes.
- Straighten your knee inside your plaster, to exercise your leg muscles.
- Move your foot up and down inside your plaster cast, but only after two days when
your plaster is dry.
- Without assistance, lift only your leg in the plaster cast, keeping your knee straight.
- Do these exercises ten times per hour, every day.
Most casts stay on for up to six weeks, but sometimes injuries require a second
cast to be fitted; your doctor will monitor your progress. You will be surprised,
how quickly you learn to live with your cast.