Emergency Department and Minor Injury Unit
You have been given this information because you have been placed in a plaster cast or fitted with another type of leg immobilisation.
Plaster casts are made up of a hard covering (plaster of Paris) and a bandage. The plaster will not be fully dry for 48 hours. You may have a plaster or cast on for up to 4 to 6 weeks.
For the first few days try to keep your arm or leg raised on a soft surface when you are sitting, this will help prevent swelling. You should try to exercise the joints and muscles not covered by the plaster, for example; fingers, toes, knees, shoulders. This will help the circulation and prevent joint stiffness.
- Get your plaster cast wet, this will weaken it
- Poke anything down the cast if it is itchy, this will damage the skin
- Alter the position of your cast
- Lift any heavy objects or walk on the plaster, unless you have been told to do so
- Drive until the cast has been removed
- Fly without contacting your airline for advice first.
Other types of leg immobilisation
Sometimes a special boot that is secured with Velcro may be used. This makes it more likely that you will be able to walk on your injury. You should only do so however if you have been told that you can.
You may remove this boot at night time in bed, but it should otherwise be worn throughout the day.
Deep vein thrombosis
If you have been placed in any form of leg immobilisation (for example plaster cast or boot) there is an increased risk of you developing a blood clot. This risk will have been assessed as to whether or not you require prophylactic treatment.
If you are discharged then your GP will be notified of this.
You should be aware of the following symptoms and seek medical help if they develop:
- Shortness of breath and chest pain that is worse when you take a breath
- Increasing swelling and pain of your leg, despite elevation for 24 hours, particularly of your thigh
- Redness of the skin to your leg developing
- Pain and increased firmness to your calf muscle
Complications of a plaster or bandage
If you have any of the following problems develop or are concerned then please contact the hospital:
- Your plaster feels too tight after elevation for 24 hours
- Your plaster is loose or cracked
- Any of your fingers or toes become blue or white
- The affected limb feels swollen, tingly, or painful despite adequate painkillers.
If needed, painkiller options include the following:
Paracetamol is usually recommended for painful sprains or strains.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) relieve pain and may also limit inflammation and swelling. You can buy some types (for example, ibuprofen) at pharmacies, without a prescription either topically as a cream, or as tablets.
You should check the medication advice leaflet to ensure you are safe to take these as some patients with asthma or stomach ulcers may not be able to.
- The James Cook University Hospital, Marton Road, Middlesbrough, TS4 3BW
Telephone: 01642 850850
- The Friarage, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL6 1JG
Telephone: 01609 779911
- Redcar Primary Care Hospital, West Dyke Road, Redcar, TS10 4NW
Telephone: 01642 511000
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.