Understanding Orthopaedic Casts: Types, Benefits, and Care Tips

In the world of musculoskeletal injuries, casts play a crucial role in immobilizing and stabilizing damaged tissues such as in a fracture. Though there are many types of casts and ways to immobilize, here are some general guidelines and pointers.

Who Needs Casting?

Individuals who have sustained injuries requiring immobilization or stabilization are prime candidates for casts. Most often prescribed for fractures, casts are occasionally used as a temporary form of immobilization before surgery. The choice of cast depends on the timing and the nature of the injury.

An accurate diagnosis through imaging is important before being prescribed a cast, as different casts have different characteristics. In an outpatient clinic, plaster casts and synthetic casts are generally offered, though there might be other types of casts such as thermoplastics.

Plaster Casting

Plaster casts are crafted from slabs of plaster, offering effective immobilization. They are left open, allowing room for swelling, particularly beneficial in the initial stages of a fracture or injury. Usually prescribed early in the treatment process, plaster casts permit swelling and settling. Though in certain cases, they may be worn throughout the entire duration of the injury depending on the preference of the patient and their daily needs.

Synthetic Casts

Synthetic casts, made from materials like fiberglass or polyester, are lighter and more comfortable when compared to plaster. Some may even be water-resistant, making them a preferred choice once swelling has subsided as it allows greater degree of freedom and movement.

Typically used for weeks during the healing process, synthetic casts offer a cleaner and less cumbersome alternative.

When to wear a brace/cast or other types of immobilizations?

Whilst certain brace might potentially be a viable option for immobilization, a custom-made cast is generally the preferred way to immobilize an injury due to its fit and better protection for fracture.

To ensure that you are getting the best care and to avoid any future complications, an accurate diagnosis is very important. Please talk to your doctor and/or your physiotherapist and consult them for the type of casts that is appropriate.

Orthopaedic casts are vital tools in the recovery process, but choosing the right type and managing potential complications are crucial for effective healing. If you have any concerns or questions about your cast, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for guidance tailored to your specific needs.

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