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Cast & Splint Care Information

What are casts and splints?

Casts and splints help support and protect injured bones and soft tissue after an injury or surgery. A splint will help provide firm support for your injured extremity; whereas, a cast will provide a more solid support and completely encompass your limb. Splints are generally used directly following a surgery or injury. The splint is open and allows comfort when you are experiencing swelling. Your Newport Orthopedic Institute doctor will decide what is best suited for your injury.

What are casts and splints made of?

Casts are generally made out of a soft cotton lining and an outer plaster or "fiberglass" layer. The hard outer layer aides in protecting your injury during the healing phase and the soft lining helps to prevent skin irritation and protects you when the cast is being cut off once you've healed.

Why are casts uncomfortable?

Once you have your cast or splint on, you might notice that at first your cast or splint may be tight. This is due to the swelling because your injury is healing. Try to keep the casted/splinted extremity elevated above the heart as much as possible to reduce swelling. This will help decrease swelling. The more you can keep the swelling down, the faster your injury will heal.

Symptoms of swelling in a cast/splint can include:

  • Increased pain or feeling like the cast is too tight
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Coldness or discoloration of extremities

If any of these symptoms occur, elevate extremity above the heart. If symptoms persist after 1 hour, contact our office immediately.

Caring for your cast

Please call our triage line if any of the following symptoms occur: (949) 722-5035. If you are calling outside of our normal business hours, please call our main number to reach the physician on-call: (949) 722-7038.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Severe worsening of pain
  • Numbness or tingling in your fingers or toes
  • Burning or stinging sensation in the injured area
  • Prolonged swelling of the hand or foot (more than 1 hour after elevating the extremity above the heart)
  • Inability to move fingers or toes

How to Care for Your Cast

The following information will help guide you on how to take care of your cast or split.

Click here to download a PDF with this information.

It is important to keep your cast clean and dry at all times. Avoid getting the cast/splint wet. When showering, wrap a dry washcloth around the top of the cast/splint and hold in place with tape or a rubber band. Cover cast/splint and towel with a plastic bag or waterproof cast cover and secure with tape or a rubber band. If any water gets in the bag it should be absorbed by the towel before it gets to the cast/splint. A few drops of water will not be a problem, but if the bag fails and the cast is saturated, please contact us immediately, as the cast/splint will need to be replaced. A wet cast can irritate your skin or cause a rash under the cast. A wet cast also does not help to heal your injury.

Please note that Cast covers are available at NOI as a cash purchase. Ask a staff member if this is an option for your injury.

We use materials designed to keep itching under control. If however, you do have an itch; DO NOT put anything inside the cast to scratch. This means no pens, pencils, coat hangers, eating utensils, etc. If you insert anything into the cast you can break the skin, which can then become infected. Digging in the cast can also dislodge the padding; leaving an area with no padding. The padded layer is what protects the skin from the saw during cast removal, so do not remove or alter the padded layer.If you have rough or rigid edges, do not try to fix them yourself. Please contact NOI to have one of our trained professionals adjust this for you.

How is my cast removed?

It is not recommended that you remove your cast yourself. You risk cutting your skin and could interrupt the healing process. Casts are removed with a special saw. The saw does not spin or rotate so it will not cut your skin. The protective cotton lining will prevent you from experiencing any discomfort while the cast is being removed.

How will I know when I'm healed?

Your physician may schedule additional X-rays during your recovery to make sure the cast or splint is doing its job. X-rays can show whether the bones are healing well or have moved out of place. The X-ray is able to see through the cast or splint material to get the best picture possible.

Please try to limit activities like sports and exercise while in a cast. Remember, you can always make an injury worse.

If you have any questions regarding your cast or splint please call Newport Orthopedic Institute at (949) 722-7038 and ask to speak to one of our Orthopedic Technicians.