If you've just returned from the hospital following a cast removal, then you're probably feeling great about having your arm back in working condition. However, while your bones have healed, your arm has been kept in the same position for quite a while. Therefore, it may be some time before your arm feels totally back to normal. The following tips will help you get on the road to full recovery.
When your cast is removed, the first thing you may notice is that your skin has shed while it was under the plaster. This layer of dead skin will need to be removed. The best way to do this is to soak your arm in warm water for at least 10 minutes to loosen the old skin. Rub the soaked arm gently with a soft towel to remove the skin deposit then apply a gentle moisturiser. It may be necessary to repeat this process if dead, dry skin remains.
It's not unusual for an arm to swell following removal of a cast. You may be keen to use the arm that has been out of action, and doing so is an important step in your recovery. However, try to avoid doing anything strenuous in the first few days. If you notice swelling, keep your arm elevated as much as possible. You can do this by placing it on the opposing shoulder to help ease the swelling. Take regular breaks from using the arm and raise it during these rest periods.
You may be in pain when your cast is removed, which is not unusual. You can take over the counter pain relief if the pain is too uncomfortable. Ice can also help to relieve pain as well as any swelling. Wrap ice in a towel and place it on the painful area for 5-10 minutes at a time. If the pain is intense and the ice and painkillers are not helping, you should consult your doctor.
Depending on the type of injury you had, you might have been referred to physio for rehabilitation once your cast has been removed. But, there is no reason to wait for the physiotherapist's appointment before you begin gentle exercises. The earlier you start using your arm, the better. You should start using and moving your arm as soon as your cast is removed while being mindful of keeping swelling and pain down with regular rests in those first days. You might find that the limited movements of your arm during the cast period have also resulted in a stiff shoulder and elbow. Start doing gentle flexing exercises and stretches to loosen your stiff joints. Focus on moving and flexing individual areas of your arm, as well as fingers. Be gentle to start with and work your way up to more intense movements.