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Limb care after a cast is removed fact sheet

Limb care after a cast is removed

Once a cast has been removed, your child’s limb will still require some time to complete the healing process and return to normal function. During this time your child will need to take a extra care and avoid some physical activities.

What to expect

Immediately after cast removal

Dizziness and/or nausea can happen after cast removal. This can sometimes be delayed. If this happens, please take a seat and inform a member of staff immediately.

Joint stiffness

It is not unusual for joints to be a bit stiff immediately after plaster removal. Elbow fractures can take as long as 12 months to regain full elbow movement, while forearm and ankle injuries will recover faster.

Swelling

The limb may swell for a few months after the cast has been removed. Lower limb fractures (thigh and shin) can cause a limp for three to six months, depending on the injury.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is usually not required for children with simple fractures as their joints return to normal through everyday use.

Care at home

Don’t scratch

Your child may feel the urge to scratch the dry skin off the limb. Try to prevent this as the skin will be very sensitive for the first few days and must be treated delicately.

Moisturise often

Moisturise the limb regularly to help the skin return to its normal condition and relieve any itching.

Keep it clean

Gently wash the limb with mild soap and a soft cloth.

Remember to:

  • Wash and moisturise the area — dry and flaky skin is normal after a cast is removed.
  • Exercise all joints through the full range of movement — as much as can be tolerated. Swimming and splashing in a pool is a good way to gently exercise the limb.
  • Use the limb for light everyday activities

IMPORTANT:

Avoid high-risk activities

High-risk activities should be avoided for the same amount of time as you were in the cast. These include:

  • Monkey bars
  • Scooters
  • Trampoline
  • Skateboards
  • Flying foxes
  • Sports

When to seek help

Seek medical advice if you notice any of the following:

  • a deformity or progressive deformity developing.
  • Your child has increased swelling or redness to the affected area.
  • the injured limb appears to be shorter than the other.
  • limb function has not returned to pre-injury level in the prescribed amount of time.
  • you have any concerns that you want to discuss with a doctor.

Contact us

Orthopaedic Outpatients Department
Level 1, Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital
501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane
t: 07 3068 2493
t: 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)
e: chq_1borthoOPD@health.qld.gov.au

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Resource No: FS085. Developed by Orthopaedics Unit. Updated: Feb 2o16. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.

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