Waterproof & Fibreglass Casts

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Coastal Family Health offers a Waterproof & Fibreglass Cast Service.

We are one of the few places on the Sunshine Coast that offer Waterproof & Fibreglass Casts casts. All our GP’s are trained and qualified for these services and techniques.

Waterproof & Fibreglass Casts Costs are dependent on size and area of the fracture, costs range from:

  • Below Elbow: $90-$110
  • Above Elbow: $110-130
  • Below Knee: $100-120
  • Above Knee: $120-$140

This is a private charge and there is no medicare rebate available.

Please contact Reception staff should you require further information on 07 5444 1522.

We are often asked about casting and thanks to Dr Robbie Taylor, here are some FAQs about Waterproof & Fibreglass Casts and what it involves:

 

15 questions we are often asked about casts (for broken bones)

  1. What types of cast are there?

There are 2 main types of cast in general use, these are Plaster of Paris casts and Fibreglass. Each is used for different reasons. Plaster casts are generally heavier, where Fibreglass is much lighter

  1. So, if fibreglass is lighter, why am I in a plaster cast?

When a bone is broken, there is nearly always swelling that goes along with it. Pretty much all fractures (broken bones) are put in what we call a “backslab” – that is, the plaster doesn’t go all the way around your arm or leg. This is to give time for the swelling to pass before the full thickness cast goes on (usually after 1-2 weeks). Fibreglass casts wrap around your arm or leg several times, so if this is done soon after the fracture, it may cut off circulation to your fingers or toes.

  1. I think I’ve broken a bone, what should I do?

This really depends. Most people will go to hospital as that’s what they’ve been told. The truth is, most minor fractures can be treated by your GP. A fracture really only needs to go to hospital if it is complex (i.e. broken in more than one place) or displaced (i.e. the bones are not lined up properly). If you are worried in any way, you should go straight to hospital, however, if you’re not sure then perhaps come down to us and we can get a quick X-Ray and either cast you or give you peace of mind within an hour or so.

  1. Can all casts get wet?

Unfortunately, no. If plaster gets wet it will start to disintegrate and then won’t do it’s job. Fibreglass is waterproof, but most places put this over a non-waterproof liner, and if this gets wet then the skin breaks down underneath. That’s where we’re different. We use a special waterproof liner that doesn’t damage the skin underneath when it gets wet, so you can take a shower without worrying!

  1. So I can go to the beach and play sports as normal?

We’d love to say yes, but you need to remember that you’ve broken a bone here. Whilst the cast does a pretty good job of holding the joint in position, the break needs to line up and stay in position until the bones have healed, otherwise you might have to wear it for even longer, or worse yet, have an operation. You should try also not to get sand in there, as this can also irritate your skin. This should rinse out though if you accidentally do get sand or other dirt inside it.

  1. Do they come in different colours and can I draw on it?

Plaster is standard white, but fibreglass does come in a few different colours. When you have your appointment ask us what we have and you can pick from these. With regards to drawing, of course you can! This is what makes getting a broken bone at least a little more bearable for kids. Permanent marker works best as this tends not to smudge.

  1. Does getting a cast hurt?

When we break a bone, the area around it is swollen and tender. We recommend some painkillers before the cast is put on and for a few days after whilst the swelling settles down. The whole point of a cast is to stop these bones from moving, so the pain should stop soon though.

  1. I am getting very itchy skin inside the cast? What should I do?

Please try to avoid putting oils or creams deep underneath the cast. There’s no way of telling how it might react with the lining and what that’ll do to your skin. We recommend you dry blowing some air in using a hairdryer (just make sure it’s on the cold air setting though).

  1. My skin is getting quite sore or red at the edge of the cast, what should I do?

Sore red skin is usually a sign of moisture damage, and this can happen if the skin is allowed to stay wet for a long time. Sometimes kids can pick at the edge of the lining and the fibreglass or plaster can rub on the skin. Please avoid picking at the cast, we try our best to give you enough of a cushion so it doesn’t irritate your skin. If you’re worried, come back to us and we shall try and fix the problem straight away.

  1. My fingers are turning white or blue, or I’m losing feeling/getting a tingly sensation in my fingers, what should I do?

This is not a good sign. Remember when I told you about the swelling that happens after a fracture? When fingers or toes turn white or blue, or get tingly or numb suggests that a cast is too tight. What we do depends on what kind of cast you are in.

If you are in a plaster cast, we recommend you use scissors (taking care not to cut the skin underneath), start at the bit opposite the plaster and carefully cut away each layer from one end of your cast to the other, so you have a split in the tube. Then you can tape it together again loosely and see us as soon as possible (the next day should be fine if it happens overnight and the tingling/numbness/colour change stops after you’ve cut the cast open).

If you are in a fibreglass cast, this is a little more tricky. We have a special tool for taking off fibreglass casts. Call us urgently and get in to get it cut off immediately. If we can’t do this right away (or if it happens overnight or at a weekend), you should go to your nearest hospital straight away.

  1. My cast is cracked? What should I do?

If the cast is cracked, then it’s likely that it won’t be doing its job of keeping that fracture in place for healing. You should try and keep the arm as still as you can and see us to replace the cast as soon as possible, unless of course your arm is feeling funny.

  1. How long do the casts stay on for?

This depends on the fracture site. Upper limb fractures usually take 4 weeks to heal, lower limb usually about 6 weeks. We will tell you how long your individual fracture should take, but this also depends on you, as some people may find their health or medications can alter this. Interestingly, did you know that smoking tobacco is known to delay fracture healing time?

  1. How are the casts taken off?

Plaster casts are easy. Remember I said the plaster doesn’t go all the way around the limb? Well all we have to do is cut along the bits that don’t have plaster and the cast comes off easily. When it comes to fibreglass, however, we have a special tool that cuts the fibreglass but not your skin. When it is time to take the cast off we will deal with it all.

  1. What happens after the cast is taken off?

Remember, your limb has been immobile now for at least a month. Some of your muscles may be weak or stiff. You should work on building these back as much as you can, and we may recommend some physiotherapy for you.

  1. I’ve had the cast taken off now, and my skin looks funny, what should I do?

Skin can often look pale, dry or flaky. Hairs may also be a slightly different colour. Don’t worry though, this is all temporary. If you are worried though, just come and see us and we’ll either be able to reassure you that everything is OK or sort you out.

Dr. Robbie Taylor
MB ChB MPharm (Hons), M.R.C.G.P, MRPharmS, F.R.A.C.G.P

Dr. Taylor was born and raised in England, he first qualified as a Pharmacist before proceeding to study Medicine at University of Warwick. Whilst he enjoys all aspects of General Practice, he has particular interests in Ear, Nose and Throat Medicine and Dermatology. He has achieved a level II accreditation in the UK in Minor Operative Procedures, and offers a range of musculoskeletal and skin procedures.

Call 07 5444 1522 to book an appointment for a Fibreglass cast