FAQs

I have had joint replacement surgery. Do I have to take antibiotics before dental appointments? What about before a colonoscopy?

We recommend that you take prophylactic antibiotics before dental appointments, for 2 years following joint replacement surgery. If you are a 'high-risk' patient (diabetic or immunosuppressed) you should take antibiotics before your dental appointments throughout your lifetime. As for colonoscopy, there is no conclusive research on this topic. We recommend you discuss this with your gastroenterologist.

Should I be using the sling?

Most of the time, slings are used for comfort after arm injuries or surgery. If you are in not much pain, you can gradually decrease sling use. However, always ask your doctor before discontinuing use.

Does MaineOrtho have surgical subspecialists?

Yes. We have specialists in almost all areas. To find these specialists click here.

How long does a cortisone shot last?

The response to cortisone is very variable depending on the condition being treated. Sometimes the effects can last up to a year, and sometimes the shot is not effective at all.

Will the cortisone shot hurt?

A cortisone shot typically hurts no more or less than other shots. Rarely, a "flare" reaction occurs, which may cause pain for several days.

Can I get the cast wet?

If you have a plaster cast, it cannot get wet. If you received a fiberglass cast that is waterproof you may get it wet in a swimming pool or shower, but we recommend against pond and ocean water. Fiberglass casts with cotton (regular) padding cannot get wet.

When can I drive?

This question is all about your safety. We recommend you return to driving when you can operate your vehicle safely. How long that takes depends on what extremity is affected, and what medications you are taking for it. You should not drive when using narcotics for pain relief. It can take up to 8-12 weeks for right leg and ankle injuries to heal sufficiently to allow the strength and coordination to drive. Please ask your doctor about your specific situation.

How do you remove the cast?

We use a special cast saw that does not cut skin. The medical assistant in the clinic will remove the cast for you.

What do I do if the cast breaks?

It is common for a cast to break down at certain points. The casts are made as light as possible, and certain areas are vulnerable. The heel in a cast that spans the ankle commonly wears out if you have been allowed to bear weight. You can apply tape to the area if needed or call the office to check if a new cast needs to be applied.

Can I scratch the skin under a cast?

Itches are very common in a cast. You should never place anything down the cast to scratch the skin. Doing so can lead to breaks in the skin because the skin under the cast is softened and more susceptible to injury. This can lead to an infection in some cases.

Can I get the cast wet?

If you have a Scotchcast® Cast Liner, it is completely fine to get the cast wet. The cast may take a few hours to dry, especially if the cast crosses your ankle or elbow. If you get soapy or dirty water in the cast, simply rinse the cast with clean water.

If you have a standard cotton-lined cast, you can not get it wet. The cast will not dry well and can pose a problem to your skin. You can cover the cast with a plastic bag or two and tape the bag above the cast on your skin. This should keep drips off the cast which will enable you to take a shower or bath, but the bag will NOT allow you to swim or submerge the cast under the water.

What if the cast feels too tight?

Casts are put on snugly to adequately immobilize the bone or joint they are designed to protect. There are times however, when the cast may feel too tight. In the early days after an injury, swelling can set in and make a cast feel much tighter. This can often times be managed with simple elevation above your heart level. If this does not relieve your discomfort, you may need to have the cast removed.

Is there more than one type of cast?

There are two basic types of casts that we commonly use in the office. The most common type is a fiberglass cast that is wrapped over a cotton under-layer. This cast is light, easily removed, and very well padded so as to maximize comfort.

We will sometimes use Scotchcast® Cast Liners, which are water compatible. This cast is more expensive and a 20$-40$ co-pay may be charged. The decision to use this is determined on a case-by-case basis depending on a number of factors to be considered. We use this type most commonly for pediatric wrist and elbow fractures.

How long will I need to be in a cast?

A cast is used typically to immobilize a broken bone. It spans at least one joint, preventing it from moving. The duration a cast is used varies considerably, from only a few weeks to months on occasion. Your surgeon will give you an idea how long your cast will be needed.