Spring weather signals the start of many outdoor activities as people of all ages eagerly embrace the change in weather. Paul Prinz, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of Loyola University Health System says, "Broken bones and fractures occur year 'round but the change in seasons always creates an increase of patients in our offices."
6.8 million broken bones and fractures are reported each year in the United States and the number is growing due in part to an older, active population of "baby boomers." "A cast is still the most common treatment for healing bones, and complaints about itching are among the most common," said Dr. Prinz.
Accidents happen and bones get broken but Dr. Prinz says that maintaining good health practices while healing in a cast is especially important. "Never stick anything into your cast to scratch an itch. Never. I have had to remove casts to retrieve items ranging from pencils and chopsticks to forks and brushes," he said.
Dr. Prinz is no longer surprised when he removes casts and finds objects. "The bone may be safely healed but scratching techniques can cause skin infections and blood conditions that require additional medical care," he said. "The skin is very delicate and sensitive when it is protected by a cast and is very easy to injure. Objects can create wounds which may lead to infection. The use of lead pencils can even cause blood poisoning," Dr. Prinz warns. He also says that healing skin wounds will increase the itch factor.