Types of Short Arm Casts: Which One Is Right for You?

Patient with bandage on injured wrist
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Arm injuries can be complex and require specialized treatment. One of the most common treatments for arm injuries is the short arm cast, also known as the below-elbow cast. In this blog post, we will discuss what a short arm cast is and why it's used as a treatment for fractures and soft tissue injuries. 

What Is A Short Arm Cast? 

A short arm cast is a circumferential orthopedic immobilization device of the forearm and wrist. The short arm cast extends from just below the elbow to the fingertips, providing support to the injured area while allowing movement in other parts of the upper body. This type of cast is commonly used for treating fractures in the wrist and forearm, as well as soft tissue injuries such as sprains or strains. It is designed to keep the injured area stable while enabling some flexibility in order to prevent further injury or discomfort. 

Types of Short Arm Casts 

Female patient with short arm cast
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Plaster Casts 

Plaster casts are made from strips of wet plaster that are wrapped around the injured area and allowed to harden. Plaster casts become hard as they dry, which helps protect the injured limb while it heals.

Fiberglass Casts 

Fiberglass casts are composed of thin fibers woven together and covered by resin or other binding agents before being formed into shape around an injured limb and allowed to harden in place.

Cast21 Cast Alternative

Unlike traditional casting, the Cast21 Alternative doesn't require any messy plaster or fiberglass bandages. Instead, the injured limb is simply placed into an open lattice sleeve which is then filled with a fast-curing proprietary formula. The result is a strong, yet seemingly weightless cast alternative that is comfortable to wear. 

Common Injuries for Which a Short Arm Cast Might Be Appropriate 

Short arm casts are used for a variety of injuries. Let’s take a look at some of the most common injuries or conditions for which a short arm cast might be an appropriate treatment option.

Learn More: Wrist Pain? Signs You May Have A Hairline Fracture

What to Expect When Applying a Short-Arm Cast (Fiberglass or Plaster) 

Doctor applying short arm cast on patient
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If you’ve recently suffered an injury and are in need of a short arm cast, you’re likely wondering what the process looks like. 

Step 1: The first step is to prepare the area where the cast will be placed. This involves cleaning and drying your skin. 

Step 2: The next step in applying a fiberglass or plaster cast is to apply the stockinette over the area where the cast will be applied. 

Step 3: Several layers of padding are then put on top. It’s important that each layer overlaps by half its width so that none of your skin is exposed beneath it. Once these layers have been applied, they should be firmly pressed against your skin without any gaps or lumps; however, they shouldn’t be wrapped so tightly that it compromises circulation in any way.  

Step 4: Finally, once all padding has been applied, a clinician can start applying your actual short arm cast using either plaster or fiberglass bandages. 

What to Expect When Applying the Cast21 System

Doctor applying Cast21 on patient for wrist fracture

Cast21 has developed a new approach to orthopedic technology that is sleek, comfortable, and easy to use. 

Step 1: The Cast21 rapid application system includes a sleeve that is placed over the injured arm that perfectly molds to your body. 

Step 2: The sleeve is then filled with a fast-curing resin formula that hardens in minutes, making quick care for both patients and doctors. 

Step 3: Once the sleeve is fully hardened, it forms a robust support structure for the injured arm. 

Can You Get a Short Arm Cast Wet? 

If you’ve been prescribed a short-arm cast, you may be wondering if it’s okay to get the cast wet. 

Plaster Cast

Unfortunately, plaster casts cannot get wet; if they do come into contact with water, they need to be replaced immediately as they will lose their structural integrity, which could potentially lead to re-injury or further damage to the area being treated. 

Fiberglass Cast

Some fiberglass casts can be gently washed in warm water when needed if they also contain water-safe linings; however, any additional moisture should always be avoided when possible as it can affect the stability of the material over time and weaken its effectiveness at supporting an injury site during healing. 

Cast21 Alternative 

Made from a strong but lightweight material, Cast21 orthopedic cast and brace alternatives are 100% waterproof, so, with your doctor’s approval,  you can shower, take a dip in a pool, soak in a hot tub, or roll around on a sandy beach without worrying about ruining your cast alternative.

Caring For Your Short Arm Cast (Plaster or Fiberglass) 

Patient using hairdryer to dry wet arm cast
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It’s important to take good care of your short arm cast once you have been fitted with one by your doctor. To ensure that your healing process goes smoothly and quickly, make sure you follow all instructions given by your doctor regarding proper care for your short arm cast including:

  • Keep the cast clean and dry. The fiberglass part of the cast is designed to repel water, but if the padding underneath gets wet, it can lead to skin irritation or even infection. If you get your cast wet, use a hair dryer on the cool setting to dry any wet areas.
  • Never shove objects inside the cast. It may be tempting to reach in with something to scratch an itch, but doing so can damage the skin, may lead to infection, and can disrupt the healing process.
  • Do not put any lotions, oils, or powders on the skin under the cast without first consulting your doctor. This can cause skin irritation.
  • Avoid activities that could impact or put pressure on the area with the cast. This could potentially damage the cast or cause further injury.

If you have an itchy cast or you notice your cast has a foul odor, learn more about how to deal with these common problems. 

Cast21 Short Arm Cast Alternative 

Cast21 is a new type of medical casting alternative that has been developed for the 21st-century lifestyle, boasting many advantages over traditional casting methods. Unlike traditional casting, Cast21 doesn't require any messy plaster or fiberglass bandages. Instead, the injured limb is simply placed into an open lattice sleeve which is then filled with a fast-curing proprietary formula. The result is a strong, yet seemingly weightless cast alternative that is comfortable to wear. 

If you are interested in trying the Cast21 System for your injury, you should contact your local doctor to see if it is an appropriate part of your treatment plan. You can also contact us to see if there is a clinic in your area that offers the product. 

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