A cast is a big, difficult bandage that’s usually made from product like fiberglass or plaster. Casts keep bones in place while they recover.
Kids get casts for lots of reasons. Generally they’re for damaged bones, but kids likewise may get casts to help bones and surrounding tissues grow properly, or to help recovery after a bone surgery.
A cast wraps around the damaged area and has to be gotten rid of by a doctor when the bone is recovered. Depending on the age of the child and kind of break or healing needed, a cast can be on for as little as 4 weeks or as long as 10 weeks.
Prior to Getting a Cast
Sometimes splints are worn for a couple of days (normally between 3 to 7) prior to a cast is made. This enables any swelling to relieve so that the cast can offer the best fit.
Splints are typically kept in place by fabric fasteners, velcro, or tape. A doctor or orthopedic technician will teach you the best way for your child to use the splint and how to guarantee a great fit.
Types of Casts
Casts typically are made of:
- Plaster of Paris: This heavy white powder forms a thick paste that solidifies quickly when blended with water. Plaster of Paris casts are heavier than fiberglass casts and don’t hold up as well in water. They’re normally used when the strongest hold is needed.
- Synthetic (fiberglass) product: These casts come in numerous brilliant colors and are lighter and cooler. The fiberglass (a sort of malleable plastic) covering is water-resistant, however the padding below is not. You can, however, sometimes get a waterproof liner. The doctor putting on the cast will decide whether your child must get a fiberglass cast with a waterproof lining.
- Elastic or other soft product: These casts are similar to fiberglass casts however allow for more motion of the limbs inside the cast. Likewise, they can be removed without utilizing a cast saw, so they might be a good option for a really child. They’re not used to secure fractures, however can be used when limbs are recovery after a surgery.
There are many types of casts. The most common casts are:
- Brief arm casts: placed from the knuckles of the hand to just below the elbow. These types of casts are used for forearm and wrist breaks and after some surgeries.
- Long arm casts: these go from the upper arm to the knuckles of the hand. They’re normally used for upper-arm or elbow fractures, but can be used in lower arm breaks.
- Brief leg casts: these run from simply listed below the knee to the bottom of the foot. They’re usually used for ankle and lower-leg breaks or surgical treatments.
- Long leg casts: used from the upper thigh to down over the foot. They’re used to recover breaks or fractures of the knee, lower leg, or ankle.
- Short leg hip spica casts (or body casts): these go from the chest to the knees and are used to keep hip muscles and tendons in location after surgery.
Getting a Cast
Using a cast requires a few simple steps. First, doctors wrap numerous layers of soft cotton around the hurt area. Next, the plaster or fiberglass outer layer is taken in water. The doctor wraps the plaster or fiberglass around the soft first layer. The external layer is wet however will dry to a hard, protective covering. Doctors in some cases make small cuts in the sides of a cast to enable room for swelling.
When the cast is on, the doctor will most likely recommend that your child prop the cast on a pillow or stool for a few days to decrease swelling and pain in that area. A child who has a walking cast (a foot or leg cast with an unique device implanted in the heel to allow for walking) should not walk on it until it’s dry (this takes about 1 hour for a fiberglass cast and 2 or 3 days for a plaster cast).
If the cast or splint is on an arm, the doctor might give your child a sling to help support it. A sling is made from cloth and has a strap that loops around the back of the neck. It acts like an unique sleeve to keep the arm comfortable and in place. A child with a broken leg who is mature enough and high enough will most likely get crutches to make it a little simpler to get around.
The area around any break will most likely be a little sore and swollen for a few days, so the doctor may suggest acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help alleviate any pain.
For bones to recover properly, particular steps should be required to ensure the cast can do its job. These tips can assist keep a cast in great shape:
- Keep non-waterproof casts dry. Numerous casts are not waterproof, so keeping them dry for the entire time the cast is in location is very important. It is best for your child to take baths, not showers. The doctor will inform you to cover the cast with a plastic bag or unique cast protector for baths. The cast area ought to be propped up on something like a milk crate during the bath to keep it completely out of the water. Children under 5 years of age need to be sponge bathed.
- Stay out foreign things or compounds. At some time, the skin inside the cast will probably become itchy. Your child needs to not stick anything into the cast to eliminate itching, as this might scrape the skin and lead to infection. You likewise should not pour talcum powder, creams, or oils into the cast.
To ease itching, tapping on the exterior of the cast or utilizing a cool blow dryer to blow air in around the edges of the cast may assist.
See children closely because they may place little toys or food inside their cast.
- Check for cracks. Examine the cast routinely for fractures, breaks, tears, or soft spots. If you observe any of these things, contact your doctor.
- Do not change the cast. Decorating the cast and having family and friends sign it is OK, but things like pulling out the cotton lining or breaking off parts are not.
- Fix sharp edges. If a sharp edge develops on the cast and is aggravating the skin, put tape or moleskin on the edge to secure the skin from the rough surface.
When to Call the Doctor
Casts seldom cause any problems if they are applied and taken care of properly. Sometimes, sores can establish if the splint or cast is loose fitting and rubs the skin. These sores can get infected. Tight-fitting splints or casts can make fingers or toes turn bluish. Repairing the cast or splint can relieve tightness.
Call your doctor if you notice any of the following:
- pain that does not improve with pain medication and/or raising the casted part
- tightness that leads to the hand or foot sensation numb or tingly
- fingers or toes turning white, purple, or blue
- trouble moving toes or fingers
- a blister developing inside the cast
- any unusual odor or drain originating from inside the cast
- a break in the cast or the cast becoming loose
- a wet cast
- skin around the edges of the cast that gets red or raw
When the bone is healed, the cast will be eliminated with a small electrical saw. The saw’s blade isn’t sharp– it has a dull, rounded edge that vibrates from side to side. This vibration is strong enough to break apart the fiberglass or plaster but will not harm skin. Don’t attempt to get rid of the cast on your own.
Once the cast is off, the injured area will most likely look and feel different to your child. The skin will be pale, dry, or flaky; the hair will look darker; and the muscles in the area will look smaller or thinner. This is all temporary. The doctor or a physiotherapist can recommend unique exercises to assist the bone and surrounding muscles get back in working order.