If you have been treated in the ER or have had surgery by Dr. Henley you may find useful information here.
Unless you were seen and treated in the office, you probably have a splint on, not a cast.
A splint (often called a half-cast) is a piece of fiberglass or plaster that is wrapped onto one side of the arm or hand. Soft padding is usually used between the skin and the hard material. A splint allows some room for swelling while preventing the fractured bone from moving. An ace wrap and tape are placed on the outside of the splint. Depending on the type of injury you have, the splint may be changed to a cast after a few days or weeks.
A cast is also made of fiberglass or plaster, but goes all the way around the arm or hand. This allows more rigid protection of the injured arm or hand but doesn’t allow much room for swelling.
Living with a splint or cast
Keep your arm elevated. Keep the injured area above your heart (shoulder level or above) as much as possible. Prop it up on pillows when you are sitting or lying down. Hold it up when you are standing. A sling may keep the injured part below your heart and make the swelling worse. Often you only need to keep the injured arm elevated for two or three days.
It takes about 48 hours for the cast or splint to dry completely – treat it gently.
Do not let the splint or cast get wet. The hard material may soften and deform and make things worse. The padding next to your skin may never dry out and may cause a severe skin injury. Cover the cast/splint with a plastic bag while showering.
Do not scratch under the cast or splint; you may get a skin infection.
Do not pick at the cast padding – it will pull out from inside the cast or splint and your skin will not be well-padded.
Don’t trim or alter the cast or splint. If an edge is uncomfortable or rubbing your skin, try to pad it with moleskin (found in most drugstores) or with some white medical tape. If this does not help, call us at the office (479-521-2752).
Fractures are painful injuries, so you can expect some discomfort with the cast or splint. Rest, elevating the arm, and taking some Tylenol are usually all that is needed. Ice packs around the fractured area of the cast/splint can help, as long as they don’t get the cast/splint wet. Prescription narcotic pain medicine is rarely needed once the bones are stabilized. Please call us if your hand or arm becomes too painful.
It is possible that your hand or arm could swell inside the cast or splint, making it too tight. This is rare – keeping your arm elevated usually prevents this. If your cast/splint feels too tight and/or if you feel worsening numbness anywhere in your hand or arm, call the office right away.
Discoloration of your arm or hand is probably normal; blood from the fracture or from the injured area can seep into the tissue below the skin and cause bruising.
If your cast/splint breaks, gets wet or comes apart, call the office to find out what to do.
These instructions cannot cover all questions, concerns, or situations. Use your best judgement. Complications are rare, and serious complications are very rare. Your best chance of reaching me is during regular office hours. Someone is always on call for the practice and can get a message to me when I am back in the office.