A broken bone is a common event. Given time and the right care, the bone is able to heal itself. A plaster cast is applied to hold the arm or leg fracture in place while the bone heals. Once the plaster has been applied, you are advised to see a doctor the next day to check that it is fitted correctly.
On average, plaster casts stay on for about six weeks. This time is sometimes longer or shorter, depending on your age, general health and type of fracture. During this time, x-rays are done to check that the bone is healing well. If there are problems with the type of fracture or the way in which the fracture is healing, you may be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon (bone doctor)
Fractures can be painful. The pain can be extreme at the beginning but it will ease when the plaster is on and the fractured limb is supported and rested. The pain will settle even further over the next few weeks. Simple painkillers, such as paracetamol, are often needed. Check the packet for instructions. The plaster causes itchiness for a few days, but this should ease.
Caring for a fracture
The plaster cast supports and protects the fracture while the bone heals. However, the cast can sometimes cause circulation problems.
To help prevent this:
In the case of an upper limb plaster cast, exercise the fingers often. In the case of a lower limb plaster cast, exercise the toes often. Keep the plastered body part raised to prevent swelling, especially for the first 48 hours. For example, use a sling to keep an arm raised, or place pillows under your leg. Ask the doctor or nurse for suggestions.
Caring for the plaster
The plaster is important, as it keeps the fracture in an acceptable position. Suggestions include:
Rest for a couple of days once the plaster is applied to allow it to set completely. Keep the plaster dry. Use a LimbO waterproof cast protector when having a shower or bath. Try to keep the plaster out of the rain. Don't stick objects down the plaster, as this will damage the skin. Don't cut or interfere with the cast. Don't walk on the plaster. It is better to use crutches instead. Don't lift anything or drive until the fracture is healed. Follow all plaster care instructions given to you by medical staff.
Where to get help
The advice on this web site given in good faith, but it should not replace the advice given by your medical professional. Always seek the advice of a professionally qualified person e.g. your Doctor, Emergency department of your nearest hospital, Orthopaedic surgeon or Physiotherapist