If you've been fitted with a cast to treat your injury, your healthcare professional will tell you how long you need to wear it for.
Plaster casts are made up of a bandage and a hard covering, usually plaster of paris. They allow your tissues, like bone or tendon, to heal by holding them in place.
Taking good care of your cast will help ensure a better recovery.
elevate your limb as much as possible to help prevent or ease any swelling and discomfort
be patient - try to move slowly and with care as the cast may be heavy
make sure you move all the joints surrounding your injury that are not covered by the cast - this can help improve your recovery time
do not insert anything down your plaster cast to relieve itching or irritation as this may damage the skin below the cast
Phone 111 if:
you experience pain in your calf, shortness of breath, new redness and swelling, or new and constant pins and needles or numbness
your cast feels too loose
your cast is broken or cracked
there is a rubbing inside of your cast
you notice an unpleasant smell or discharge coming from the cast
Exercises for arm casts
Exercises can be beneficial for the joints around your arm injury that aren't covered by the cast.
You can try arm exercises whilst you have a cast on.
Stand or sit in an upright position. You can also lie on your back.
Slowly lift your affected arm up towards the ceiling (elbow straight) and then lower again.
Repeat 5 times.
Elbow flexion and extension
Sitting in an upright position, slowly bend your affected elbow. Your hand should move towards your shoulder.
Straighten your elbow out fully.
Repeat 5 times.
With the side of your hand rested on a table, and your fingers and wrist straight, clench your hand into a loose fist.
Hold for 2 seconds then unclench and straighten your fingers.
Finger and thumb touch
Place your palm out in from with your fingers stretched out.
Touch your thumb to the top of your little finger and then stretch your hand out again.
Exercises for leg casts
Move your toes little and often when they are in a cast.
Some exercises are beneficial for the joints around your leg injury that are not covered by the cast.
Lying knee bend
With both knees straight, slowly bend your sore leg by sliding your foot along the floor or bed towards you as far as is comfortable.
Hold this position for 2 seconds before straightening your leg.
What to do when your cast is removed
When you have your cast removed your skin can be dry, flaky or discoloured. Sometimes you may see more hair. The hair can also be thicker.
To help your skin at this time, you should:
wash and dry your limbs gently
moisturise your limb regularly
avoid picking any wounds to allow them to heal naturally
It's normal to feel stiff and sore after a cast is removed. This is because your limb has been kept still for a long period of time. This will ease with movement
It can take several weeks for you to restore your full movement. It can sometimes take months for your strength to return. You will have lost some muscle but this will return as you increase your activity levels. Swelling may also continue for some time.
Sometimes the pain can increase when the cast comes off. This is because the area is moving more than it has been for the past few weeks. It's normal to still be using painkillers at this stage, or to need them after you've initially stopped using them.
If you need advice on painkillers speak to your local pharmacist or GP.
Find your local pharmacy
Use Scotland's Service Directory to find your local pharmacy.