Ring splints are devices that some people with arthritis wear on their fingers to improve function and reduce pain. They are available in various materials.

Some people with arthritis have trouble straightening their finger joints to perform everyday tasks such as grasping objects or putting on gloves. Inflammation in the finger joints may cause pain, reduce function, and lead to the fingers getting locked or stuck.

This article explores how ring splints may help reduce arthritis pain and looks at the different types available. It also discusses what other treatments may be helpful and answers some frequently asked questions.

Closeup of a hand wearing ring splints.Share on Pinterest
David Bleeker Photography/Alamy

The Arthritis Foundation explains that ring splints can stabilize finger joints and support the joint in its usual range of motion. This can help reduce the pain accompanying inflammation of the joints in osteoarthritis of the hands and rheumatoid arthritis.

One 2021 study asked 2,231 people with osteoarthritis if and how silver ring splints (silver splints) improved symptoms after use for 3 weeks. Out of the participants, 74% reported improved pain symptoms, with 43% stating that pain symptoms had changed significantly or very significantly.

In a 2019 study, researchers made a tin splint for 30 people with painful osteoarthritis in the end joint of the finger. Most participants reported symptom relief after the 10th day of wearing the splint, and the pain continued to reduce after 6 months.

There are two common categories of ring splints: swan neck splints and boutonniere splints.

Swan neck splints help prevent a finger joint from moving beyond the neutral position, while boutonniere splints help straighten a joint that a person is unable to extend.

In addition, ring splints are available in various materials, including:

  • metal, including silver and gold
  • plastic
  • foam

Custom-fitted double-loop ring splints made of flexible metal are more durable than plastic or foam ring splints. They are also more durable.

Manufacturers can craft ring splints to resemble jewelry, adding decorative bands or precious stones. These may be suitable for someone who wishes to wear them regularly for a longer time.

Ring splints may help people with osteoarthritis of the hand or rheumatoid arthritis, which are the most common types of arthritis.

However, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis, some of which may affect the joints in the hands. A person’s doctor can advise on whether ring splints will be beneficial.

Additionally, fractures and injuries may lead to joints in the hand healing out of position or at an abnormal angle. This may cause post-traumatic arthritis to gradually develop.

It is best for a person to discuss treatments with their doctor as soon as they notice arthritis symptoms in their hands. This is because ring splints may no longer be beneficial once the joint has fused.

Learn more about the types of arthritis.

In addition to ring splints, there are numerous possible treatments that can help a person manage symptoms of arthritis in their hands or fingers.

Possible treatments include:

  • oral or topical medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • hot and cold therapy
  • steroid injections, if other treatments do not work
  • surgery, in severe cases

A person’s doctor can help create a suitable treatment plan based on the severity of their symptoms.

Learn more about managing arthritis in the hands.

Here are some frequently asked questions about arthritis in the fingers.

What splint is used for arthritis?

The type of splint a person requires will depend on where they experience symptoms of arthritis. Some people use ring splints for arthritis that affects the fingers. Splints are also available to support the hands and wrists.

Can a splint straighten an arthritic finger?

Boutonniere splints help straighten fingers that people are unable to actively extend. However, a ring splint cannot straighten a finger once a joint fuses.

How do you treat arthritis in the ring finger?

Ring splints may be suitable for use on any finger. A doctor may also recommend other treatments, such as medication and applying heat or ice.

How do you wear rings with arthritis?

Manufacturers can make custom-fitted ring splints that are like jewelry. If someone is unable to wear an existing ring because of arthritis, they may choose to wear it on a chain instead.

The main types of ring splints for arthritis in the fingers include swan neck splints and boutonniere splints. Swan neck splints can prevent the joints from moving beyond the neutral position, while boutonniere splints can help straighten a finger joint that a person cannot otherwise extend.

Ring splints are available in various materials, including metal, plastic, and foam. Manufacturers can make the splints look like jewelry and custom-fit them, which may be beneficial if a person plans to wear the splints for an extended period.

Individuals with arthritis symptoms in their hands can discuss treatment options with a doctor. Their doctor can advise if ring splints are suitable and what kind they might benefit from.