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Closed reduction of a fractured bone - aftercare

Alternate Names

Fracture reduction - closed - aftercare; Cast care

 

Description

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 - 8 weeks. How quickly you heal will depend on:

  • Your age
  • 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, footstool, or something else.

Do not place rings on your fingers or toes until your provider tells you it is safe to do so.

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 health care provider.
  • 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 health care provider before using it.

Do not take more than the amount recommended on the bottle or by your health care provider.

Your physician may prescribe a stronger medication if needed.

Activity

Until your health care provider tells you it is okay:

  • Do not drive.
  • Do not play sports, work out at thegym, 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.

Cast Care

Some general care guidelines for your cast are:

  • 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.

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 health care provider tells you it is okay.

Follow-up

You will likely have a follow-up visit with your health care provider 5 days to 2 weeks after your closed reduction.

Your health care provider 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 health care provider 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 health care provider if you have any signs of infection. Some of these are:

  • Fever or chills
  • Swelling or redness of your limb

See your health care provider right away or go to the emergency room if you have any of these symptoms:

  • 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:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • A cough that starts suddenly and may produce blood

References

Fractures: general management In: Mercier LR, ed. Practical Orthopedics. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 2.

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.


Review Date: 6/11/2012
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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