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Long Leg & Short Leg Casts

Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

What are the differences between long leg and short leg casts? What types of injuries require long leg casts and what types of injuries require short leg casts? Learn the answer to these questions and much more by checking out this lesson.

A Leg Injury

Lonnie is a 34-year-old father of two who recently took his family out boating on a lake near their house. Lonnie found a nice spot on the lake, anchored the boat, and then decided to jump in the lake for a swim. However, the water was pretty murky and Lonnie could not see that the lake was shallow where he had anchored. When he jumped in, his feet crashed into the lake bottom and he let out a painful yell.

Lonnie got back onto the boat and realized that he couldn't move his ankles. His wife drove the boat back to the marina and drove Lonnie and the family to the ER. In the hospital, x-rays revealed that Lonnie had broken both of his ankles, and a doctor informed him that he would have to wear a short leg cast on both of his legs for several weeks.

Short leg and long leg casts are commonly used for fractures to the feet, ankles, and lower legs. This lesson will give details about each of these casts, including the specific type of injury for which they are used.

feet and ankle bones caption=

Short Leg Casts

Short leg casts are most commonly used for fractures to the metatarsals (bones in the feet), ankles, and lower tibia and fibula. The tibia is the bone on the big toe side of the lower leg, and the fibula is the bone on the pinky toe side of the lower leg. In addition to bone fractures, short leg casts are also often used to provide stabilization following surgery to the foot or ankle or to treat severe ankle sprains.

Short leg casts usually extend from a couple inches below the knee joint to the base of the toes. When these casts are applied, the ankle is usually positioned at a 90 degree angle. Extra padding is frequently put in the cast at the location of each of the malleoli, which are the round bones that stick out from each side of the ankle.

Short leg casts are most commonly used for fractures to the feet, ankle, and lower portions of the tibia and fibula.
short leg cast

Long Leg Casts

Compared to short leg casts, long leg casts are used for injuries that occur higher up on the leg. Specifically, long leg casts are commonly used for fractures to the knee joint and upper tibia/fibula, severely sprained knees, and to provide stabilization following surgery to the knee joint.

Long leg casts get their name because they are quite long, extending from around the middle of the thigh all the way down to the base of the toes. Just like short leg casts, long leg casts are usually applied with the ankle bent at a 90 degree angle. Additionally, these types of casts are usually applied with the knee joint in a slightly bent position.

Long leg casts are most commonly used for fractures and the knee and upper portions of the tibia and fibula.
long leg cast

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