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Finger splints are pieces of medical equipment that people can wear to immobilize their injured finger and prevent further damage. There are various types of finger splints, each treating a different condition, and they come in a variety of sizes and materials.
This article explores the effectiveness of finger splints, the types a person can buy online, and the features people may consider before making a purchase. The article also offers some safety tips and how a person can use this medical equipment for a child.
Orthosis is the correction of disorders of the limbs or spine with the help of braces and other devices to reestablish proper alignment or provide support. Healthcare professionals refer to a brace, splint, or similar device as an orthotic.
Orthotics such as finger splints can protect joints by immobilizing them, reducing pain and swelling while helping acute injuries heal. They can also prevent injuries and facilitate proper joint function.
Authors of the review did not find any significant difference between the benefits of custom or ready-to-use orthotic devices.
Healthcare professionals do not recommend finger splints as a standalone treatment for arthritis. Rather, they suggest using them in tandem with other management techniques, such as physical therapy and medication.
Doctors often recommend splinting when a person has an injured finger, such as mallet finger. This type of injury occurs when a person injures the tendon that straightens the finger or thumb. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) notes that finger splints can help keep the finger straight and stable as it heals.
According to the AAOS, people have to wear it continuously for 8 weeks, including while bathing. After bathing, a person needs to remove the splint and allow it to dry. While it dries, they have to keep their finger straight to avoid prolonged healing time.
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There are four types of finger splints:
- Buddy splints: These involve two fingers taped together. People use buddy splints when they have a strained finger — for example, as a result of a jamming injury. This type of splint is not suitable for fractured fingers.
- Static splints: These hold a joint in a specific position, either completely straight or slightly bent. People can find metal and foam static splints at local pharmacies, where they are available over the counter. However, people can also use custom-made ones that use moldable plastics, which are helpful for treating repetitive use injuries, tendon damage, and fractures.
- Stack splints: They come in different sizes, and they treat the tip of a finger. They fit over the end of the finger and go down past the first joint to hold the finger up straight so it does not bend. These finger splints use plastic with holes in them to promote air flow.
- Dynamic splints: They consist of plastic, foam, and metal and offer a prolonged stretch for stiff joints. Also, they are suitable to wear at night or when a person is resting.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.
The package contains eight wraps that use washable, latex-free, and eco-friendly medical grade fiber. The material can absorb some impact and help keep the fingers straight.
A person can customize the splint tape to wear on either their fingers or toes.
This FingerPress static splint comes with a warning about using it under supervision of a hand therapist or surgeon.
The company claims the design helps correct flexion contracture of the proximal interphalangeal joint, which causes a person to have a hard time straightening the fingers due to overuse, injury, or arthritis.
The company states the device can help straighten the finger through gradual changes in the support.
The device comes in multiple sizes, so a person can select the size that best fits their fingers.
Sumifun Stack Splints offers five different splints to fit every finger. They provide breathable support and correction for people with various issues, including cracked fingertips, mallet finger, osteoarthritis, finger stiffness, and dislocation.
Some reviews on Amazon note that the fabric fasteners used to attach the splints to the fingers are not adequate to hold the splints in place, particularly when wet. Some reviewers recommend using a waterproof adhesive tape to fix that.
The KLNILY Dynamic Finger Splints use a coil to help keep the fingers in a natural position. According to the company, they are suitable for individuals with cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and muscle tension.
The design of the splints offers stability and protection and allows a person to perform exercises to help strengthen their fingers while wearing the splint.
The features a person may want to consider when buying a finger splint include:
- Size: A person should check whether the finger splint supports their finger size.
- Conditions and design: Finger splints come in a variety of designs and shapes to help treat different conditions. Individuals should check which finger splints are suitable for their injury. Many manufacturers will list what they believe the splint will work for. When in doubt, a person should consult a healthcare professional about what type of splint will be most suitable for them.
- Material: Materials that companies use can vary greatly between products and may include latex-free options, breathable materials, plastics, rubbers, and metal. The materials can affect both comfort and durability of the splint.
- Ease of adjustment: This helps secure the splint in place to immobilize the finger and allows the user to wear the splint on either hand.
Individuals should cover their splint with a sheet of plastic before taking a shower, as the splint needs to remain dry.
Those who can take off the splint should ensure that the skin is dry before putting the splint back on.
The AAOS notes that people should seek immediate medical attention if they experience any of the following:
- increased or severe pain
- a tight splint
- difficulty moving the fingers
- an unpleasant smell coming from the splint
- burning or stinging
In some cases, a healthcare professional may suggest the use of finger splints for children.
However, a parent or caregiver should check with a pediatrician before using a splint on the child, as treatment with a splint may not be necessary or advisable.
For example, according to the National Health Service (NHS), children may not require treatment if they have a trigger finger, as it often resolves on its own over time. Trigger finger is a condition in which the finger is stuck in a bent position and causes pain and stiffness.
However, splints and hand stretches may help improve the child’s symptoms.
The NHS states that doctors may recommend the child wear a splint or buddy straps if they have a fracture, as the devices can keep the bone in place. A healthcare professional may also advise the child to do some safe hand exercises at home.
A parent or caregiver should use care when removing the child’s splint for washing or other reasons. When they do remove it, they should rest the child’s finger on a flat surface to help keep it stable and in place.
A parent or caregiver of a child with mallet finger and blood beneath the nail should seek immediate medical attention. The American Society for Surgery of the Hand states that if an individual does not receive immediate treatment, the finger can become deformed.
Finger splints are a type of medical equipment that can benefit individuals who have an injured finger. Finger splints prevent further damage, provide stabilization, and can help treat various injuries, such as damaged tendons and fractures.
People can buy finger splints from online providers or at a local pharmacy. However, they should check with a doctor first to learn more about which device they need for their condition.
A parent or caregiver of a child with an injured finger should contact a doctor right away so that the finger does not become deformed over time.