What to Expect Immediately After Cast Removal

Physician tearing off a plaster cast from patient's leg
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Cast removal is a significant milestone in the healing process. It marks the end of one phase of treatment and the beginning of the next. For many people, it is a time of great relief and anticipation. That’s why it’s important to know what comes next in terms of pain, swelling, and mobility. This comprehensive guide will tell you everything you need to know about recovering after your cast removal. We will also discuss the healing process, how to take care of your skin, and when you can return to normal activities.

What to Expect Immediately After Cast Removal 

The moment your cast is removed, you may feel a sense of relief—and freedom! However, it is important to keep in mind that your limb may be weak, and your skin may be sensitive. Here are a few things to expect immediately after cast removal: 

Tingling or Numbness

You may feel some tingling or numbness in your arm or leg. This is a common occurrence and will typically go away within a few minutes. Once the sensation has passed, you can gently move your arm or leg to help increase circulation.

Dizziness or Nausea 

As soon as the cast is off, you may feel dizzy or nauseous. This is due to the sudden release of pressure on the nerves and blood vessels in your limb. It usually happens right away, but it can sometimes be delayed. Please take a seat and inform a medical professional immediately if this happens. 

Pain After Removing a Cast

Nurse removing patient's arm cast
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It's not uncommon to experience some pain after having a cast removed. After being immobilized for weeks or even months, your muscles and joints may be weak and stiff. It's also possible that you may have sustained some nerve damage from the pressure of the cast. In most cases, however, the pain should go away within a few days. If the pain is severe, lasts for more than a few days, or is accompanied by swelling, redness, or numbness, it's important to see a doctor for further evaluation.

Read More: Beware of Cast Saw Injuries During Cast Removal 

Swelling After Removal of Cast

Immediately after the cast is removed, you can expect some degree of swelling in the limb. This is caused by the release of pressure on the tissues constrained by the cast. The swelling may last for a few weeks but will gradually subside as the tissues heal. In the meantime, you can help reduce the swelling by elevating the limb and applying ice to the affected area. 

Joint Stiffness

Once the cast is off, your joints may feel a bit stiff. Start moving the affected limb as soon as possible to prevent stiffness from lingering. Some simple movements that can be done at home include stretching and range-of-motion exercises. Over time, the joint will regain its full range of motion. Your doctor may also have you perform a range of motion test and could recommend physical therapy based on your results. 

Muscle Atrophy

Once the cast is removed, it is not unusual for an arm or leg to be smaller than the other side. This is due to muscle atrophy that occurred during the time the limb was immobilized. This atrophy is usually temporary and can be reversed with some simple exercises. In most cases, you will need to perform fundamental strengthening and flexibility exercises several times a day for several weeks to rebuild muscle strength.

Read More: The Truth About Fiberglass Casts for Bone Fractures

Skin Care After Cast Removal

Nurse applying cream on patient's arm after cast removal
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After weeks or months of having your skin hidden away under a cast, it's not surprising that it might not look or feel its best. Depending on the duration of time you were in the cast, your skin may be dry, flaky, bumpy, or discolored. But don't despair; with a little care and attention, you can get your skin back to its healthy, pre-cast glow: 

  • Start by gently washing with mild soap and lukewarm water. Gentle exfoliation removes dead skin cells and promotes new cell growth.
  • Avoid scrubbing or using hot water, as this can further dry your skin.
  • Exposure to air and sunlight will help to improve the appearance of your skin. 
  • Avoid scratching or picking at the skin. It can irritate the skin and even cause infection.
  • Apply a moisturizer, cream, or ointment liberally to help rehydrate and repair your skin. Look for products that contain petroleum-based ingredients to help speed healing.
  • Avoid lotions with fragrances, dyes, or other harsh chemicals.
  • Your doctor may also recommend using an anti-inflammatory cream that can be purchased over the counter or with a prescription.
  • Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet to support your skin from the inside out. 

Physical Therapy 

Physical therapy may be necessary for some people after their cast is removed. The therapist will help to increase the range of motion and strength of the affected area. They may also provide exercises to improve flexibility and reduce swelling. In some cases, physical therapy may be recommended to help prevent the formation of scar tissue. 

For people who have had a complicated fracture or surgery, physical therapy may be an important part of the recovery process. The therapist can work with the patient to create a customized plan that will help them regain function and mobility. 

Bone Fracture Healing Time After Cast Removal

“Is my bone completely healed when my cast comes off?” is one of orthopedic surgeons' most commonly asked questions at the end of cast treatment. Even after a cast is removed, it can take some time for a bone to be considered “fully healed.” In most cases, it takes around 6 to 8 weeks for a minor fracture to heal. More severe fractures can take between 3 and 6 months to fully heal even after the cast is removed. Although the bone is no longer broken, it may still be weak and may break again if it is not given time to heal properly. 

Read More: How Does a Broken Bone Heal? 

When to Resume Activities 

Two people exercising and practicing hand fitness
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It is important to limit activity for the first few days, as the muscles and tendons around the area need time to adjust. After a few days of rest, you can slowly begin to resume your normal activity level. If there is any pain or discomfort, please consult your doctor. 

Activities to Avoid After Cast Removal 

Most people are eager to get back to their normal activities after having a cast removed. However, it's important to take things slowly at first and avoid any activities that could put undue stress on the healing bones and tissue. For example, playing contact sports or lifting heavy objects is not recommended in the early days after cast removal. The reason is that your bones and muscles have been weakened by the immobilization of the cast. Your body needs time to rebuild its strength before subjecting the affected limb to strenuous activity. Instead, focus on gentle exercises that will help to increase range of motion and build muscle without putting too much strain on the area. 

Post-cast Care Has Never Been Easier with Cast21

Cast21 has made a splash in the medical community with its innovative take on the traditional cast. The 21st-century immobilization device is made up of an open lattice design, allowing easy cast removal and monitoring of the skin during treatment. The design also ensures that the skin will never be damaged during the removal process. 

In addition, the cast is made from a comfortable and breathable material which helps to keep the skin healthy throughout the duration of treatment. As a result, patients can wear the cast for extended periods without worrying about skin irritation. With its unique design and commitment to patient comfort, Cast21 is changing the way we think about cast care. 

If you're looking for a product that is easy to use and makes the casting process more efficient, then Cast21 is a perfect choice. Contact us today; we would be happy to discuss our products with you and answer any questions you may have.

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