Dr. Wallace’s Cast & Splint Care Instructions
Swelling in the Cast or Splint
Swelling from your foot or ankle surgery/injury may cause pressure or tight feeling in your splint or cast. If you have a splint, you can loosen the outer wrap and the rewrap it more loosely to accommodate the swelling if needed.
Elevation of the Foot
In order to reduce swelling and decrease pain, you can prop up your leg on pillows or elevating foam wedge (available at the office or online) making sure to support and slightly flex your knee. If your knee is straight or hyperextended, it will begin to hurt. Make sure that your heel is hanging free without anything underneath it. “Floating heel” at all times. This will avoid a burning sensation which is felt with sustained pressure on the heel and is a precursor to a bed sore or ulcer.
If you have a splint or cast, it is important to wiggle you toes and even ankle to the extent that you can to prevent stiffness.
Remember: It’s important to keep the foot above the heart, “Toes to nose” 45 minutes of every hour for the first few days for optimum swelling reduction. After that, elevation will still be required, but usually less time per hour as time goes by.
Ice after Surgery
Protect your cast or splint with a dry plastic bag or towel. Ice can be applied to the operative or injured area as needed for 20 minutes of every hour. You can also try icing behind your knee if you cannot find relief through the cast or splint. In any case, do not put ice directly on skin.
Showering after Surgery
You can take a shower by sitting on a stool in the shower and using a shower bag (cast cover), which can be purchased in the office, online, or at a pharmacy. Alternatively, you can use 2 waterproof trash bags with each. sealed separately at the top with duct tape. Do not put duct tape on the skin itself. Put a hand towel around the top of your splint or cast prior to bagging it to catch any water that may get through.
Movement after Surgery
Limit your activity to essential activities for the first 5-10 days following surgery. At first this will mean being up primarily for meals, use of restroom, bathing. Later, you can increase activities as directed by your surgeon. Initially you can expect your surgical site to throb when it is down and to be more comfortable when elevated. You will gradually be able to do more upright with less discomfort. You will need to have a knee scooter or wheelchair (if unstable) if you are non weight-bearing. Crutches or a walker are used for shorter distances and for partial weight bearing (putting some tolerable pressure on your operative leg but not all). You need to feel comfortable with the use of these devices and should be instructed on proper use prior to discharge home. DO NOT lean your arm pits on the crutches as this can create other problems.
PLEASE CALL THE OFFICE (972-250-5700) for the following
- Increase in pain or swelling that is not relieved by elevation, loosening ace wrap, or medication
- Excessive swelling and discoloration of the toes/foot even after elevating; this could be a sign of blood clot
- New numbness or tingling of the affected extremity, after nerve block wears off
- Increased pain that has a different quality than the post-surgical burning type of pain.
- Loss of movement or function of the toes
- Cast/splint getting wet
- Breakage/splitting of the cast
- Fever of 101° and over