This page provides information on how to look after your plaster cast, which is important to ensure a better recovery of your broken bone and injured limb.

About your cast

If your cast is ‘Plaster of Paris’ it will feel warm for 20 minutes and take about 48 hours to dry. Synthetic casts will feel warm for about 3 minutes and will take about 30 minutes to dry.

Care of your limb and cast

While you are in a cast, keeping your limb raised will help relieve any pain you may be feeling. Please be aware that the cast will not relieve all of your pain. We recommend that you take regular pain relief for the first few weeks of your injury if needed. If you are using a sling, remember to move your elbow and shoulder as advised.

Skin damage under the cast

Sometimes your cast can rub your skin and can cause a blister to form under the cast. This needs to be treated as soon as possible to stop it from getting worse. Please contact the Plaster Room for advice as soon as possible. the telephone number is at the end of this leaflet.

If you have an increase in pain, an unusual odour from the cast, any rubbing, burning or any other concerns, you should contact the Paster Room for advice as soon as possible. The staff will give you an appointment time to attend and ask that you report to the Trauma & Orthopaedic reception on your arrival.

Damage to your cast

If your plaster cracks, becomes loose or if you have dropped something inside your cast, please contact the Plaster Room.

Swelling and pain

Keep your arm or leg raised on a soft surface, such as a pillow, as often as possible while your limb is in plaster. This will help any swelling to go down and will reduce the feeling of pins and needles in your limb.

Reduced circulation

If your fingers or toes become cold and blue, even if you have kept your limb raised, please contact the Plaster Room immediately for advice.

Reducing the risk of a blood clot when in a plaster cast

Having a plaster cast can make you less active and increase the risk of blood clots (venous thromboembolism – VTE). VTE is the collective name for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). VTE can be a serious and life-threatening condition.

DVT is the name given to a blood clot which forms inside a vein, deep beneath the skin of your leg. The clot blocks the blood flow through the affected vein and can cause several signs and symptoms.
Sometimes, a part of the clot breaks off and passes through your veins which can block a blood vessel in your lung - this is called a PE

Who is at risk of a VTE?

Some people are more at risk than others of developing a blood clot.

The risk is increased if you:
• are over 60 years old
• have a personal or family history of blood clots
• have active cancer
• have recently had major surgery
• have an Achilles tendon rupture
• have had a baby in the last 6 weeks or you are currently pregnant
• have a disorder which makes your blood more likely to clot
• take certain medications, such as the combined oral contraceptive or hormone replacement therapy
• have long-term medical conditions requiring treatment, such as heart, lung, bowel or hormone disease
• are overweight
• have varicose veins

Reducing the risk of developing VTE

A doctor or nurse will complete a simple assessment with you, to work out your personal risk. If you are considered to be at risk of VTE, your doctor will discuss this with you and may prescribe you a blood thinning medicine called heparin. This is a small injection.

You or your carer will be shown, by a registered nurse, how to injection the heparin into your tummy or outer thigh. The doctor will decide how long the heparin will need to be given.

Whether you have been prescribed heparin or not, you should take the following precautions:
• Try to keep moving around as much as possible (unless you have been advised otherwise)
• Drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated
• Take pain relief regularly as needed. Follow the dosage instructions inside the package

Signs and symptoms of DVT and PE

• Leg pain or tenderness
• Leg swelling
• Leg is warm to touch
• Redness of leg

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
• Chest pain
• Coughing up blood
• Sudden collapse

However, a DVT or a PE may happen without any symptoms.

If you develop any of the signs and symptoms above, you should contact your GP or NHS 111 immediately for advice. If you have severe shortness of breath, chest pain or you collapse, you or the person with you should dial 999 for an ambulance.

Questions you may have

Can I drive?
You must check with your insurance company before driving. Your insurance may be invalid which can lead to you being liable to prosecution.

Can I go on holiday?
If you are going on holiday, the sea and sand must be avoided while you have your plaster cast.
Please discuss with your GP or travel provider if you are traveling by air. When travelling to Europe, do not forget your ‘GHIC’ (UK Global Health Insurance Card). Please visit the website for more information. If your airline requests a letter from the doctor, please mention this to us at your next appointment.

Future appointments
If you are unable to attend your next appointment, please contact the Orthopaedic Outpatients on the number at the end of this leaflet.
If you are expecting to receive an appointment either by phone or letter and you do not hear from us within 48 hours of your cast being applied then please contact the Trauma Service at the number at the end of this page.


Remember to take pain relief before attending any appointments as we may be removing or changing the plaster cast.


Trauma Service enquiries

Tel: 0300 422 5269
Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 2:00pm

Plaster Room

Cheltenham General Hospital
Tel: 0300 422 3148
Monday to Friday, 8:45am to 4:30pm

Gloucestershire Royal Hospital
Tel: 0300 422 8411
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm

Outside of these hours you can contact NHS 111 for advice. Tel: 111

Printable version of this page

Care of your cast Department: Trauma and Orthopaedics Review due: November 2025 PDF, 284.4 KB, 8 pages
Reference number GHPI0058_11_22
Department Trauma and Orthopaedics
Review due November 2025