Principles of casting and splinting

Anne S. Boyd, Holly J. Benjamin, Chad Alan Asplund

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

The ability to properly apply casts and splints is a technical skill easily mastered with practice and an understanding of basic principles. The initial approach to casting and splinting requires a thorough assessment of the injured extremity for proper diagnosis. Once the need for immobilization is ascertained, casting and splinting start with application of stockinette, followed by padding. Splinting involves subsequent application of a noncircumferential support held in place by an elastic bandage. Splints are faster and easier to apply; allow for the natural swelling that occurs during the acute inflammatory phase of an injury; are easily removed for inspection of the injury site; and are often the preferred tool for immobilization in the acute care setting. Disadvantages of splinting include lack of patient compliance and increased motion at the injury site. Casting involves circumferential application of plaster or fiberglass. As such, casts provide superior immobilization, but they are more technically difficult to apply and less forgiving during the acute inflammatory stage; they also carry a higher risk of complications. Compartment syndrome, thermal injuries, pressure sores, skin infection and dermatitis, and joint stiffness are possible complications of splinting and casting. Patient education regarding swelling, signs of vascular compromise, and recommendations for follow-up is crucial after cast or splint application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican family physician
Volume79
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice

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    Boyd, A. S., Benjamin, H. J., & Asplund, C. A. (2009). Principles of casting and splinting. American family physician, 79(1).