short leg cast
May 26, 2010 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Short leg casts, why 90 degrees? Will variance in the angle of the cast cause the bones to heal improperly?

Someone I know broke there ankle 2 days ago. There cast is not set exactly at 90 degrees. (this is the general position, and what was desired by the doctor) The cast is off by about 15 degrees, pointing the toe slightly downward. Will this cause the bone to heal incorrectly? or cause any future issues?

Standing he is not to put weight on it anyways, but the slight angle is making the one leg slightly longer, and causing a funny stance while standing, and the toe to catch when switching directions, and turning.
posted by MechEng to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
I can tell you that after a cast is applied, they do an x-ray to make sure the bones are in the correct position for healing. As you said, this is the position the doctor wanted.

It will feel strange for a short while after the cast is removed, but your friend should adjust quickly to his previous, normal gait and shouldn't have any permanent problems due to the positioning of a cast.
posted by Eicats at 7:31 AM on May 26, 2010

The same thing happened to me when I had my ankle screwed back together. The doctor told me something like this: "Hold your foot off the ground, see how your good foot normally points down, thats what we're going for".

It was annoying sure, but I think it also served the purpose that I couldn't walk on it without crutches, even though I felt like I could have after a few weeks.
posted by sanka at 7:36 AM on May 26, 2010

Not all breaks are the same. There is no standard healing position unless the breaks are near identical. Your friend was probably just unlucky.
posted by JJ86 at 9:38 AM on May 26, 2010

Just as a datapoint - when I broke my wrist, the cast was configured so the elbow was about 100 degrees instead of 90, and the palm was facing downward and slightly away from the body. The whole thing looked crooked. Every single day that I had that cast on, someone at work would mention to me that it looked wrong. I kept asking them if they were that good of an orthopedic expert, why were they working here?

The doctor knows what he's doing.
posted by CathyG at 12:19 PM on May 26, 2010

Two days is a short time to get used to a cast. In a week, he will be so used to the angle and the foot sticking out that he will have accommodated it just fine. The thing with angle of foot and such may have to do with how tight his calf muscles are. If they are really strong, having them at full extension may put added pressure on the ankle, while letting the foot droop a little allows for a little less tension during the healing process.

Help him to realize that, after the cast comes off, it is really important to follow the doctor's or therapist's regimen of exercise and re-hab in order to ensure complete mobility.
posted by Old Geezer at 12:20 PM on May 26, 2010

Best answer: My previous question about crutching and leg injury may be relevant to you (for general info) / your friend. (If you have any other ?s about crutches / hobbling about town, feel free to MeMail me.)

I am down to one crutch now (yay!) but when I would stand on the two, I held my leg up with my knee bent. That may eliminate the toe-catching-on-things. I adjusted very quickly to the modified gait required by crutches, and, later, my orthopedic boot when I became weight-bearing. He will get better at it; things will get easier.
posted by quadrilaterals at 6:12 PM on May 26, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses.
posted by MechEng at 7:21 PM on May 26, 2010

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