The Difference Between Casting and Splinting a Broken Bone

When the X-ray technician confirms a broken limb, the doctor may recommend a splint or a cast. The decision to delay casts for broken bones in favor of splints is fairly common and we hope this quick article sheds light on those types of decisions made by your doctor.

Purpose and Use of Splints

If a cast is put on right away, it may soon become loose as caused by the reduction in swelling. A loose cast will have to eventually be replaced, making it logical to start with a splint if there is severe swelling.

A splint is a partial cast that wraps only part of the injured limb/affected area with a hard shell. Doctors can adjust the splint easily as the swelling decreases or increases while keeping costs manageable for the patient.

The splint can be premade, or it can be custom-made due to the situation and type of injury. Materials include the plaster or fiberglass half-cast and elastic bandages and there may be padding or other materials that improve comfort or strength. Splinting may be used for a week or several weeks depending on the doctor’s analysis of the fracture, yet it is an effective treatment that will allow proper healing of the bone until a cast may be more suitable.

More often than not, a splint is applied instead of a cast in an Emergency Room, satellite facility or urgent care facility, for the reasons described above.  The healthcare providers in these types of locations will normally refer the patient to a nearby orthopaedic doctor for further analysis and treatment.

Purpose and Use of Casts

Some doctors will recommend casts for broken bones right from the beginning, dependent on the injury and their assessment on swelling and the type of fracture.

A cast is made of plaster or fiberglass and typically lined with a stocking-like cotton liner. In between, there is generally some padding for comfort.

The standard cast is not waterproof, and this can make showering or other activities very difficult for the patient. This is a particular problem for parents because children cannot be monitored every minute, and that leads to casts damaged by water or recreational activities.

If a cast does get wet, this can lead to the need for a replacement and there is the possibility that, insurance will not pay for the replacement cast because it is considered negligence of the patient.

Purpose and Use of Waterproof Cast Liners

With waterproof casts, the equation changes. A waterproof liner allows water to pass through and quickly dry. It doesn’t absorb water like cloth linings or deteriorate like cotton liners.

In a cast with waterproof lining , most of the water runs out of the cast and the remaining water can dry easily through natural evaporatioin or with the help of a blow dryer on the cool setting. There is little chance of ruining the cast with water exposure thus typically eliminating the cost of a replacement cast.

Waterproof casts utilize fiberglass and durable waterproof cast padding,.The injured person can go about their daily routine with reassurance that moisture doesn’t matter with showers remaining unaffected, and rainy days are much less threatening.

Fair-weather activities such as swimming, boating, hiking, and camping aren’t a threat either, which allows the patient to get back to a normal routine allowing for a happier recovery.

If you are dealing with a broken bone, you can find out about durable waterproof cast padding and liners by asking your doctor or our team of specialists.

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