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How to Fly With an Arm in a Split Cast

Updated March 28, 2017

If you have an arm injury requiring a cast, you still may be able to fly on commercial airliners. However, certain precautions need to be taken to ensure that your arm is protected and will not be further injured. Split casts have a seam cut down the side of the cast itself. These seams help relieve pressure from swollen tissues. Seams may be as deep as the cast itself and often have bandage-wraps around the cast pieces that can be unwrapped if the user becomes uncomfortable. As a general rule it is best to avoid flying with a fresh cast, arm or otherwise, for 48 hours post casting.

Pack two small pillows to elevate your injured and cast arm. Once you are on the plane, the injured arm should be elevated and packed in soft pillows to prevent movement or blood from accumulating in the arm and hand.

Make sure the cast is split to ensure proper pressure changes on the arm. As a rule, try not to fly for 48 hours after the cast is put on the arm. There is typically residual swelling with injuries, and this swelling may continue for up to 48 hours after the injury and casting. A change in cabin pressure may or may not affect the swelling. When it does, the tissues may swell in the cast and restrict or cut off circulation.

Place the pillows on your lap during take-off and landing or any time the tray tables need to be raised. Once cleared to open the tray tables, lower the tray, place the pillows on the tray, and place the cast arm onto the pillows.

Move the arm once an hour to ensure proper circulation.

Tip

If you have an upcoming trip and are concerned about your cast and injury, talk to your doctor. Ask if you should fly or if you need prescriptions for anti-inflammatories or painkillers.

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About the Author

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.