Research shows that plaster casts with clunky texture are the best choice for fractured bones.

  • Broken wrists can be healed with plaster casts or metal pins, according to a study.
  • Both methods were tested in 500 older Britons over the course of a year-long study.
  • After 12 months the different patients groups rated their treatment the same 
  • According to doctors, the safer and cheaper plaster option should be considered the best.

A study shows that plaster casts made from clumpy plaster may actually be the most effective way to treat broken bones.

Many patients who have suffered fractures complain of moulded castings. They say they feel uncomfortable and obnoxious.  

But the alternative — using metal pins to hold broken bones in place while they heal — is no more effective, doctors say.   

Experts in trauma treatment sought the best way to treat a fractured wrist. This is one of the most common broken bones in the US and UK.  

While the metal pin method, known as K wires, is the ‘routine’ treatment option, it is more expensive than plaster casts, which can cost as little as £9.

This procedure requires that patients undergo additional surgery. Patients are therefore exposed to all the usual risks associated with an operation.

Traumatic injury experts have found using the cheaper and safer plaster cast for treating broken wrists had almost no downsides for the vast majority of patients

According to trauma experts, plaster casts are safer than the more expensive ones and have almost no negative effects on the majority of broken wrist patients.

Oxford University researchers analysed both the methods and their effects on 500 patients with broken wrists. 

About half the volunteers received traditional plaster casts while others had surgery. 

Patients were questioned over 12 months about their injuries and healing.  

The Start-up offers a mesh-like and waterproof alternative to traditional plaster casts for broken bones. This is not a need to be removed using a Saw. 

Itchy, uncomfortable and even unpleasant-smelling bones can be a problem. However casts for broken bones might soon disappear.  

The lightweight, waterproof, and breathable alternative was created by a US startup. It can be used in any water environment, including the pool, sea or bath. 

Cast21’s mesh sleeves are slipped on the wrists of patients and filled with liquid resins. They harden in minutes. 

Traditional plaster casts can be difficult to clean. Experts say it’s not hygienic, and can cause skin infections and sores.

The designers say this alternative device can make the healing process “far more enjoyable”, and is available in a variety of vivid colours. 

You don’t have to shave it with a saw, as standard castings can prove terrifying for young children. It is not yet possible to buy the cast.

The participants were asked about their pain levels, their ability to use their wrists, their life quality, and their current quality of living. 

Scores were given by participants out of 100. Lower scores indicate better results.   

To check for complications, patients were also examined at three and six months.

The academics, who published their findings in the British Medical Journal, found no statistical difference in outcomes between the two groups.

The average healing rate for plaster cast patients was 21.2, after 12 months. Surgery group had a rating of around 20.7. 

This is essentially a cheaper, less invasive method of healing a fractured wrist.

Researchers did however find that an 8th of the patients from the plaster cast group required follow-up surgery in order to make sure their bones healed correctly after six weeks. 

This is compared with just one patient from the group that had metal pins.

Lead researcher Professor Matthew Costa said, however, that the recommendations to cast a plaster in the first instance were still valid.

Expert in orthopaedic trauma said that seven of eight patients can be treated with cast treatment without the need for surgery.  

“However, it is important to follow up.

Plaster casts are often made from plaster of Paris, fibreglass or polyester, surrounding some padding and the dressing which goes over the skin.

They can usually be removed using a variety of tools, including special-designed saws and scissors. 

Some businesses are working to make new castings from waterproof resin. These casts can cause skin irritations as well as unpleasant odours. 

The average age of the study participants was 60 years, with 83 percent of them being women.

They all had fractured their wrists sometime in the period January 2017 to March 2019.

In the UK, broken wrists are common among older women. One in twenty have suffered this injury in their lifetime by age 80. This number rises to one in ten when they turn 90. 

It is believed that the injury accounts for 10% of broken bones in America.