A fracture is a break of the bone. It occurs when bone is subjected to more stress than it can absorb. Fractures can occur at any age. Signs and symptoms can vary depending upon the site of injury, the type, of fracture, and the amount of trauma that has been sustained by the bone and surrounding tissue. To confirm that a fracture is present, an x-ray will be done.
Casts are most often used to help mend broken bones. They (1) immobilize the injury, (2) protect an area recovering from a fracture or surgery, and (3) reduce pain caused by motion and relieve discomfort.
The healing time for a fractured bone will depend on the type of fracture, the kind of bone (such as arm or leg) and the person's age. Children usually heal much faster than adults. Most fractures will heal in approximately 6-8 weeks. During this period, your cast may be changed several times.
Special care is required for the first 48 hours following the injury. To reduce swelling in the afflicted area:
Be alert for these warning signs and report them immediately to your physician or return to the Emergency Room:
Your first cast will usually be made plaster. It takes approximately 24-48 hours to dry. Handle it with care. Keep it uncovered to allow it to dry completely. Avoid resting it on hard or sharp surfaces in order to prevent a dent or soft spot from forming and causing a sore to develop inside the cast. Do not stand on a walking cast until it is completely dry and your doctor allows it! A plaster cast must never get wet.
Synthetic (Fiberglass) Cast with Cotton Liner
This cast is completely dry in 15 minutes. It is usually lighter and stronger than the plaster cast; you may walk on it almost immediately, if your doctor allows. This cast should never get wet!
Synthetic (fiberglass) Cast with GORE-TEX Liner
This cast is dry in 15 minutes. It is the only cast that may get completely wet. You may bathe regularly and swim without covering the cast. Be sure to rinse the cast with clean water to remove chlorine, soap, and other substances. No special drying procedures are necessary after wetting. Most of the water will drain quickly out the ends of your cast. For arm cast put the arm to your side with the fingers pointing to the floor to allow water to drain from the cast for 5 minutes. For leg cast lay on your stomach for 10 minutes to allow the water to drain from the heel to the toes. The remaining water on your skin will be warmed by your body heat and evaporate through the liner and cast. Do not cover the cast while it is drying. Most casts will feel dry within one hour.
Follow-up Office Visits
X-rays will be taken to determine when healing is complete. These films can be taken through the cast.
The cast may be changed if it becomes loose or if some healing has occurred and a shorter cast can be used. A special saw will be used to remove the cast.
When the fracture has healed your cast will be removed. You may notice stiffness, swelling and some discomfort at first. These symptoms are normal and should improve in 2-3 weeks. Patience is the best treatment. Don't overdo exercise or other physical activities.
For Further information regarding your care call, 205-638-9146.
If you have any questions regarding the cast during the evenings and weekends please do the following:
Call 205-638-9100 and ask to have the Orthopaedic Resident paged to "your" number.