Fracture reduction - closed - aftercare; Cast care
Closed reduction is a procedure to set (reduce) a broken bone without surgery. It allows the bone to grow back together. It can be done by an orthopedic surgeon (bone doctor) or a primary care provider who has experience doing this procedure.
After the procedure, your broken limb will be placed in a cast.
Healing can take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks. How quickly you heal will depend on:
The size of the bone that broke
The type of break
Your general health
Self-care at home
Rest your limb (arm or leg) as much as possible. When you are resting, raise your limb above the level of your heart. You can prop it up on pillows, a chair, a footstool, or something else.
Do not place rings on your fingers or toes until your doctor tells you it is OK.
You will likely have some pain the first few days after getting a cast. Using an ice pack can help.
For pain, you can use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn). You can buy these pain medicines at the store.
If you have heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, or have had stomach ulcers or bleeding, talk with your doctor.
Do not give aspirin to children.
You may also take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) for pain relief. If you have liver disease, talk with your doctor before using it.
Do not take more than the amount recommended on the bottle or by your doctor.
Your physician may prescribe a stronger medication if needed.
Until your doctor tells you it is OK:
Do not drive
Do not play sports, work out at the gym, or do other exercises that could injure your limb
If you have been given crutches to help you walk, use them each time you move about. Do not hop on one leg. You can easily lose your balance and fall, causing more serious injury.
General care guidelines for your cast include:
Keep your cast dry.
Do not put anything inside your cast.
Do not put powder on your skin beneath your cast.
Do not remove the padding around the edges of your cast or break off part of your cast.
Do not scratch under your cast.
If your cast does get wet, use a hair dryer on the cool setting to help it dry.
Don't walk on your cast unless your doctor or nurse tells you it is OK. Many casts are not strong enough to bear weight.
You can use a special sleeve to cover your cast while you shower. Do not take baths, soak in a hot tub, or go swimming until your doctor tells you it is OK.
You will likely have a follow-up visit with your doctor 5 days to 2 weeks after your closed reduction.
Your doctor may want you to start physical therapy or do other gentle movements while you heal. This will help keep your injured limb and other limbs from getting too weak or stiff.
When to call the doctor
Call your doctor if your cast:
Feels too tight or too loose
Makes your skin itch, burn, or hurt in any way
Cracks or becomes soft
Also call your doctor if you have any signs of infection. Some of these are:
Fever or chills
Swelling or redness of your limb
Foul smell coming from the cast
See your doctor right away or go to the emergency room if:
Your injured limb feels numb or has a "pins and needles" feeling
You have pain that does not go away with pain medicine
The skin around your cast looks pale, blue, black, or white (especially fingers or toes)
It is hard to move the fingers or toes of your injured limb
Also get care right away if you have:
Shortness of breath
A cough that starts suddenly and may produce blood
Nettina SM. Musculoskeletal health. Lippincott Manual of Nursing Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2010;chap 32.
General principles of fracture care. In: Eiff MP, Hatch R, eds. Fracture Management for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 2.
C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.