Key Points About Knee and Leg Casts

  • A knee & leg cast is a hard covering that stabilizes and immobilizes your knee and lower leg while it heals.
  • You may need a knee & leg cast after a knee fracture or dislocation, severe sprain, or for recovery after surgery.
  • Risks associated with a knee and leg cast include blood clots, compartment syndrome, swelling, or failure to heal.
  • During the casting process, your doctor will place a stocking covered by soft padding on the leg and knee. He or she will then cover with a plaster or fiberglass coating, which will dry into a hard outer shell.
  • Your doctor will evaluate your case to determine how long you will need to wear the cast. Recovery time depends on the severity of our injury.
A knee and leg cast is a rigid, protective covering that keeps your knee and lower leg still while it heals from a fracture or surgery. The cast will hold the bones in proper alignment while immobilizing them, so they do not move. Knee and leg casts are made from plaster or fiberglass that form a hard shell on the outside. They are lined with padding for cushion against your skin. 

Who is a Candidate for a Knee & Leg Cast?

Conditions that may require a knee or leg cast include:

  • Severe sprains.
  • Fracture.
  • Knee dislocation.
  • Recovery from surgery.
  • Damaged tendons or ligaments

Risks associated with Knee & Leg Cast

Complications associated with a knee & leg cast include:

  • Blood clots.
  • Compartment syndrome.
  • Swelling in the leg under the cast.
  • Failure to heal.

Preparing for a Knee & Leg Cast

Your doctor will take an X-ray to determine the severity of your injury and locate the fracture. 

In many cases, a knee & leg cast is put on after a traumatic injury, so you will not have much time to prepare beforehand.

If you do have time to prepare, organize your home so that you can easily get around on crutches. You may also need to coordinate a driver to help you get around.

What to Expect with a Knee & Leg Cast

Your doctor may need to realign or set the fracture to make sure the bones are in the correct position. Some bones can be set with manual manipulation, while others may need surgery to realign the bone.

Your doctor will place a stocking over your knee and leg where the cast will be. He or she will then roll a layer of soft padding over the area. This will provide a soft cushion between your skin and the cast as well as provide slight pressure to the bone so it will heal. 

The plaster or fiberglass cast material will then be rolled on top. It will start to harden 10 to 15 minutes after it is placed. The material will be fragile as it continues to harden for 48 hours.

Recovery from a Knee & Leg Cast

You will be instructed to keep your leg elevated after the injury to reduce pain and swelling. Your doctor will give you guidelines to ensure you heal properly. Guidelines include:

  • Keep the cast dry.
  • Avoid swimming and water activities.
  • Take pain medication as prescribed.
  • Avoid putting too much pressure on your leg during the healing process.

Recovery time and how long you will have to wear your cast will depend on the severity of your injury. It may take several weeks or months to heal completely. Your doctor will likely give you crutches to help prevent you from putting too much pressure on your leg.

If you start feeling any pain, tingling, or numbness in your leg, knee, legs, or toes, contact your doctor right away. You may have too much pressure or swelling in your leg.