Tips for Coping with a Broken Bone in a Plaster Cast

Not many events can break your schedule with quite the same force as a literal broken bone. Even the smallest of these injuries usually require immediate medical attention, followed by an obstructive plaster cast, and 6 – 8 long weeks of recovery, complete with routine checkups and x-rays throughout.

Broken Bone in a Plaster Cast; image source:

So what is one to do whilst waiting for the body’s natural healing process to finish its job? Well, you could start by getting to know your new unpleasant companion, by using the following popular tips.

The most obvious approach to setting your bone straight, would be to rest it as much as possible, avoiding any movement you can, whilst perhaps even utilizing a sling if appropriate.

It is also recommended to prop the broken area above heart level by using pillows, as this action will reduce swelling, and is particularly beneficial during the first 2 – 3 days after injury. Finally, the constant wiggling of your fingers or toes will help your joints remain fluid whilst increasing circulation, so fidget away to your heart’s content!

You may find the cast irritating your skin around the edges, or (even worse) you may be tortured by an itchiness beneath the hard shell which you simply cannot reach. What’s imperative to remember here is that you do not want stick anything down the cast no matter the reason, as this may damage the plaster or even you! Rather, use a hairdryer on the lowest setting to tackle the urges to scratch, and paste moleskin padding whenever your skin is being rubbed the wrong way.

Dealing with the Pain

Unfortunately, a broken bone is a broken bone, and so some pain is unavoidable. Wrap an ice pack in a plastic bag to avoid moisture eroding the casting, and then apply it to your limb for 20 minutes, which should reduce the swelling and numb some of the agony. Another clever trick to combat the swelling, is to compress the area with elastic bandages.

If the pain becomes unbearable, you might want to explore more pharmaceutical options, seeking over-the-counter painkillers which have anti-inflammatory properties. However, if the pain persists or if you find your digits becoming numb and/or tingling, don’t ignore this, and speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

Accomplishing Everyday Tasks

Obviously your movement will be limited during the healing process, and everyday tasks are going to come with additional challenges. Wear loose clothing which can be easily removed without disrupting the troubled area. Protect the cast from water when you shower by wrapping it in a garbage bag, and use a back scrubber brush to minimize the cleaning effort.

If the casting does get wet, dry it immediately with a hairdryer to avoid plaster damage, as well as any unpleasant damp smells. However, should your cast begin to stink, use moisture absorbing powder around the openings to weaken the power of the stench.
If it’s your dominant arm in question, you should avoid operating machinery and/or driving whenever possible.

You may also have to rely on your other arm to complete the usual mundane chores, and while this will feel awkwardly unfamiliar at first, most people learn to deal with it relatively quickly. Finally, if you are having a difficult time, ask someone for help! Don’t forget, your life has just been interrupted by a serious injury, and pushing yourself could risk further damage. Rather let someone with two good arms lend you a hand.

Once the Cast Comes Off

Even after your bone has healed into place, your limb has still been out of action for a long time, and may require some further love. With the cast removed, your skin could be a dry and flakey mess. Soak the area in warm water for 10 minutes, gently clear the dead skin away with a towel, and then moisturize.

Additional rehabilitation or physical therapy may be suggested by your doctor too. By lifting light weights or using a forearm workout device, you can restore your motion, flexibility, and strength quite rapidly. Furthermore, studies have shown that regular cardio exercise will encourage your body’s overall bone healing mechanisms, whilst also improving your balance, which will hopefully avoid any other nasty tumbles in the future.


Without a doubt, living with a cast is an unavoidably annoying process which could even drive the most resilient of people completely insane from the restrictive movement and ceaseless itching.

But with a little bit of luck and a lot of patience, your bones should grow back together as good as new, and before you know it, there will be no sign of the accident left except for an embarrassing story that your friends tell everyone at parties.

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This article was contributed to by a guest author.


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