Doctors often place a cast around a broken limb to prevent the joints and muscles from moving your bone as it heals. While breaking a bone is extremely painful, the pain usually subsides after the bone has been set and the cast applied. Report any new or unusual pain to your doctor immediately.
After the Cast Is Placed
Having a cast put on does not hurt, but since your bone is broken, expect some continuing pain after a cast is placed on your limb. However, the pain shouldn't be as severe as when you broke the bone, since it is now being immobilized by the cast. Avoid putting pressure on the bone to avoid further pain. Use a sling for a broken arm or hand, and crutches for a broken leg or foot, to reduce the amount of pain you might experience. Keep the broken bone elevated for 48 to 72 hours after getting a cast to help reduce swelling and prevent discomfort.
After the Cast Is Removed
Expect some pain after a cast is removed. Your muscles often become smaller and weaker from lack of use, and can feel tight or sore. Joints can stiffen from inactivity and be painful to move, especially if you broke a joint such as your elbow or wrist. Skin often becomes dry and scaly, and may have patches of redness where it rubbed against the cast. Gradually increase activity to strengthen the limb to prevent overuse injuries, soreness and pain.
Regaining Strength After a Cast
Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy to rehabilitate your limb after your cast is removed. You may be instructed to start with stretching exercises to regain flexibility, which may cause some pain. If you broke your leg, ankle or foot, your doctor may encourage you to walk to gain strength. If you broke your arm, hand or wrist, you may be encouraged to begin lifting light weights to regain muscle tone. Never begin an exercise program after suffering a broken bone before consulting with your doctor.
Compartment syndrome can occur if your cast is too tight. If your extremities begin to turn white, purple or blue, or if you experience increasing pain or a burning, tingling sensation after a cast, contact your doctor right away. This could mean the cast is cutting off your circulation.
If the skin around the edge of the cast is red or raw, the cast may be wet on the inside and should be replaced. If you suspect an infection under your cast, contact your doctor immediately.