Key Points About Shoulder and Arm Casts 

  • A shoulder and arm cast is a specialized cast that prevents excessive abduction and external shoulder rotation. 
  • Complications that can occur while wearing a shoulder and arm cast include compartment syndrome, infection, shoulder or arm stiffness, neurological injury, or heat injury.
  • Your doctor will fit your shoulder and arm with a cast that has a soft protective layer against your skin and a hard-outer covering made of fiberglass or plaster.
  • Your doctor will evaluate your case to determine how long you will need to wear the cast. Recovery will depend on the severity of your injury and complication of treatment.
A shoulder and arm cast, also known as shoulder spicas, are specialized casts that fit around your torso to support the shoulder and arm. Although awkward to wear, the cast will stabilize the bone as it heals, while preventing the muscles from contracting and preventing any movement that will strain the injury.

What Conditions Would Require a Shoulder & Arm Cast?

A shoulder or arm cast is typically recommended to immobilize the shoulder or arm after a severe shoulder injury or surgery. Conditions that may require a cast include:

  • Humerus fracture.
  • Dislocated shoulder.
  • Trauma to ball and socket joint.

A shoulder or arm cast may also be used to stabilize the shoulder after tendon transfer surgery.

Risks Associated with Wearing a Shoulder or Arm Cast

Complications can occur while wearing a shoulder & Arm Cast. Complications include:

  • Compartment syndrome.
  • Heat injury.
  • Infection.
  • Shoulder or arm stiffness.
  • Neurological injury.

Preparing for a Shoulder & Arm Cast

In many cases, a shoulder and arm cast is put on after an accident, so you will not have time to prepare.

If the cast is being placed after a procedure, wear baggy clothes to the appointment to ensure they fit over the cast. Also, prepare your home to accommodate your limited ability to move with the cast. You may also need someone to drive you for a period.

What to Expect from a Shoulder & Arm Cast

You will awake as your doctor fits a cast on your shoulder or arm. The cast will be custom made for you and fitted to your body.

Your doctor will line your skin with cotton or synthetic materials to form a soft, comfortable lining. He or she will then build the outer cast from plaster or fiberglass to form a solid outer shell. The cast will harden and make it harder to move.

Your doctor will position the cast to hold the joint still above and below the injury. Because immobilizing the shoulder is more difficult than other body parts, the cast has to extend around the torso to provide the necessary support.

Recovery with a Shoulder & Arm Cast 

You will wear a shoulder or arm cast for several weeks, so it must be comfortable. If your cast is rubbing against your skin, it can create sores. Talk to your doctor if you think your cast does not fit properly.

Guidelines to following during recovery:

  • Do not get the cast wet.
  • Try to avoid showers or baths.
  • Take medications exactly as prescribed.

Your doctor will monitor your healing and remove the cast once the affected area has healed appropriately.