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Cast care instructions

What is a cast?

A cast is a splint used to immobilise, support and help to control pain in a limb that is fractured, injured or may have had an operation.

There are several different materials available that can be used to construct a cast.  The principles of caring for a child in a cast are the same, no matter which material is used.

What do I have to do?

⚠️ Please return to the hospital immediately if any of the following problems occur

The below symptoms could mean there is a problem with circulation due to swelling of the affected body part.

Extreme pain

Extreme pain that is made worse when they try to stretch the toes or fingers of the affected limb.

How to tell if it is extreme pain:

  • The pain feels much worse than when your child originally injured themselves.
  • It is not helped by any pain medicine even when you have given your child pain medicine regularly.

Burning or hot feeling

If your child complains of a burning sensation or soreness that feels hot, looks red or bruised, within the cast or the edges of the cast this could indicate a pressure ulcer (also known as a pressure sore). This is an injury to the skin and underlying tissue, primarily caused by prolonged pressure. Please check the skin on a regular basis.

Swelling

If your child develops marked swelling of any areas you can see such as fingers, thigh or toes.

Worrying change in colour

If the affected body part develops any blueness or discoloration.

Numbness or unable to move

If your child has numbness or pins and needles or is unable to move the fingers or toes of the affected limb.


How do I care for the cast?

If the cast goes soft, splits or becomes loose, uncomfortable or causes any rubbing or soreness to your child’s skin, please call the department for further assessment as the cast may need to be changed or adjusted

Do not attempt to cut your child’s cast.

Try to avoid knocking your child’s cast as this may cause pain.

 What can my child do?

  • Regularly exercise the fingers or toes of the affected limb.  This is important to do because it encourages circulation and can reduce muscle stiffness.
  • Elevate the affected limb where possible, especially in the first few days after cast application. This should be when your child is at rest and comfortable.
  • If your child has a long leg cast on (this starts from the groin down to the toes), elevate the limb with pillow support behind the calf leaving the heel free. Unless advised otherwise by the medical staff, exercise the leg and toes if possible, lifting the leg up and down several times a day. This will help to maintain the strength in the muscles of the thigh.
  • If your child is using crutches, please use them only as instructed.
  • Always wear cast shoes, if able to weight-bear, to aid safety and mobility.

What should my child not do?

  • Walk on the cast unless your child has been instructed to do so. If your child has a plaster of Paris cast on it may take approximately 24 to 48 hours to dry.
  • Walk on a synthetic cast immediately – it takes at least 30 minutes for the cast to dry.
  • Get the cast wet. You should be careful when bathing. The plaster room staff can provide information on cast care products to aid bathing.
  • Put anything down the cast such as rulers, pencils, toys or money. If items get stuck inside your cast and are not removed it could cause pressure sores on the skin which may leave permanent scarring. Please return to the hospital if this happens.
  • Sit in front of, or too close to an open fire or radiator. This makes the cast too hot and could cause a burn to the skin under the cast.

Contact us

Plaster Room 0114 271 7538

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Out of hours

Emergency Department via switchboard 0114 271 7000

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Disclaimer

Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.

Resource number: ED10

Resource Type: Article

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NHS

Western Bank
Sheffield
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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