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How Long Does a Cast Stay On?

A close-up of a young man in a long-arm cast grabbing his wrist and slightly clenching his fist.

There are about 6 million fractures reported in the United States each year. With the number of broken bones affecting so many, there are various treatment plans in place that help move along the healing process in a comprehensive fashion.

One of the best and most common ways to treat a broken bone is through a cast. Depending on the size, location and type of break you experience, different casts and treatment options are available to you.

If you or a loved one has recently broken a bone, got put in a cast, or are simply curious about the casting process, we are here to help. At PVHC, we recognize that an informed patient is our best asset. Let’s dive deeper into the casting process, including typical timelines for casting to determine how long a cast stays on.

What is a cast?

A cast is a shell casing typically made of plaster or fiberglass. It is used to encase and protect a broken bone. A cast works to stabilize a limb or hold the proper anatomical structure of a body part that is out of place due to a fracture.

How do I know if I broke a bone?

Broken or fractured bones are common in both children and adults. While adults experience a higher rate of broken arms, children more commonly break their collar bones or forearms. A fractured bone is simply a crack through one or more of the bones in the body that requires immediate medical attention.

The most common signs of a broken bone include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Deformity

While most bones can heal on their own with the support of a cast, some breaks require surgical intervention for proper placement and healing. If you think you have a broken bone, don’t delay treatment. Early casting is imperative to heathier and faster healing.

How do I know if I need a cast?

If you’ve recently broken a bone or believe you may have sustained an injury that caused a break, the first step to determining if you need a cast is by visiting your doctor, who will order imaging of the affected area.

If there is an indication of a broken bone, your doctor will discuss a personalized treatment plan that will most likely include using a cast for a certain period of time.

Most broken bones require casting. In rare instances of sprains or simple fractures, splints may be sufficient. Speak with your doctor to determine if a cast is needed.

How long will my cast stay on?

Cast wearing length varies by patient and diagnosis. Typically, you will wear a cast for about 4 to 6 weeks. Some more minor breaks require less time, while others will require a longer length of time.

Other factors that could come into play when determining how long your cast needs to stay on include your health history, age and overall bone density.

One thing is for sure when it comes to casting: you will keep your cast on until your broken bone is considered healed. Some people recover quicker than others. The most obvious example is that children heal breaks quicker than adults.

If you’ve recently broken a bone or sustained any sports injury that has resulted in a fracture or the need for casting, we can help. Don’t put off treatment; casting is vital for a healthy and fast healing process.