Broken bones are a common problem managed by orthopedic surgeons. Caring properly for a cast is an important part of the healing process.
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- Keep the cast dry.
Keep the cast (and most importantly the cotton wrap around the injury) dry at all times. If you want to wash, carefully wrap the cast in plastic and protect the cast from any water.
- Don't stick sticks under the cast.
Try to keep objects out from under the cast. Especially avoid the urge to stick coat hangers under the cast--this can cause damage to both your skin and the cast material.
- Trim rough edges.
Rough edges of the cast can be trimmed with an emery board. Do not cut the cast with scissors or attempt to break off rough edges.
- Relieve itching the right way.
To relieve itching under the cast, try pointing a hairdryer on a cool-air setting down the cast. This usually helps to relieve these symptoms. Over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl can be helpful.
- Watch the cast carefully.
Inspect the cast regularly, and alert your doctor if it cracks, breaks, or becomes loose. Also look for reddened or raw skin around the cast edges--your doctor can pad these areas to prevent problems.
- Elevate the cast
Elevate the injured extremity. This is most important to prevent swelling in the initial days following the injury.
- Exercise the extremity.
Even if your arm is in a cast, you shouldn't neglect the fingers that are dangling out! If exercise causes pain, alert your doctor.
- Apply an ice bag to the cast.
Icing the injury also helps to reduce swelling. If you attempt icing the broken bone, be certain you keep the cast dry.