Stiffness is a huge problem whenever anyone is in a cast. As kids get older, it’s more of a problem than when they’re young. This involves decreased range of motion in joints of the arm. The most important joints to pay attention to are in the fingers.
In this article, I want to educate you on something that is easy to check and prevent but most parents and lots of doctors overlook every day in this country.
Stiffness in a cast
Stiffness of the elbow, wrist or forearm are sometimes problems when kids come out of their cast after the bone has healed. There’s a good excuse for this – holding the arm still makes the immobilized joints stiff and sometimes sore.
However, in most cases, the fingers are free, sticking out of the cast – especially in wrist fracture and elbow fracture treatment.
There is rarely a good excuse for finger stiffness in a child with an arm cast.
Tips on avoiding finger stiffness
Several strategies can help parents (who can remind doctors) prevent this problem.
- make sure your child’s fingers are free and can move relatively normally after the cast is put on
- if the doctor’s assistant puts the cast on and you have a question about how the fingers are moving, ask to have the doctor take a quick look.
- encourage your child to move his fingers if they’re totally exposed at the end of the cast
- watch for rubbing of the cast material on the fingers or hand – this will keep your child from moving his fingers normally during the healing process – the cast edges can usually be trimmed and padded to keep pressure off the skin.