Key Points About Foot or Ankle Casts

  • A foot or ankle cast is used to help immobilize your foot or ankle after a traumatic injury. There are two types of casts – plaster and fiberglass. Your doctor will decide which one is best for your case.
  • Your doctor will make customize the cast to fit your body. It may take as long as two days for the cast to completely dry.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions to keep the cast dry and functioning correctly.

A foot or ankle cast is an orthopedic device that supports broken, fractured or injured bones and joints in the ankles and feet. 

Casts immobilize the foot or ankle to keep it completely still during the healing process. Your doctor will mold a cast to your foot or ankle to provide the maximum protection and support.

There are two main types of casts:

Fiberglass. A fiberglass cast is lightweight, durable, and porous. Fiberglass casts are designed to allow air to circulate to your foot and ankle. If your doctor needs to X-ray your ankle while it heals, a fiberglass cast is an ideal choice.

Plaster. Plaster casts are made from a cotton bandage covered with plaster, making them easy to shape. Once the plaster dries, the cast is durable and hard.

Candidates for a Foot or Ankle Casts

If you have suffered a foot or ankle fracture, you may need a foot or ankle cast. A stress fracture may be caused by the impact associated with repetitive activities such as walking, jumping, or running. 

Risks Associated with Foot or Ankle Casts

Complications can arise from wearing a cast. Complications may include:

  • Itching skin under the cast.
  • Pressure sores under the cast.
  • Compartment syndrome (a potentially dangerous condition caused by internal bleeding or swelling from pressure building up in the foot or ankle).
  • Foul odor coming from the cast.
  • Swelling or red, raw skin around the cast.
  • Limited ability to move toes on the injured foot.

You can avoid many complications by following your doctor’s instructions.

Preparing for a Foot or Ankle Cast

An ankle cast is often used after an emergency procedure to realign and fix a broken ankle or foot, so many people do not have time to prepare. 

You will not be able to move as easily with a cast on your foot. Consider preparing to have a caregiver help you get around when you get home. 

What to Expect During Foot or Ankle Casting

Your orthopedic doctor will place a stockinette over the foot and ankle and add a layer of padding to protect your skin.

If you are getting a plaster cast, your doctor will moisten the strips of materials and applies them over the padding.

While it will take approximately 15 minutes for the materials to dry, it can take as long as two days for the cast to harden completely. 

Duration of Wearing a Foot or Ankle Cast

You will wear your cast for six to eight weeks. 

Follow your doctor's recovery instructions carefully to ensure proper healing. Instructions include:

  • Do not get the cast wet.
  • Use a plastic bag over your cast when you take a shower or bathe.
  • Elevate your foot for three days after surgery.
  • Do not scratch under your skin.

Your doctor will remove the cast with a special medical saw. You will not feel any pain when the cast is being removed.