How do I Choose the Best Forearm Splint?

Solomon Branch
Solomon Branch
Forearm splints are usually transparent, so they can be left on when getting an x-ray.
Forearm splints are usually transparent, so they can be left on when getting an x-ray.

In order to choose the best forearm splint, you need to assess what function it will need to serve. Many injuries to the wrist and forearm involve a broken bone or strained tendon, but not all do. Sometimes the injury is not that severe, or it is the result of a chronic issue, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. If you need a forearm splint, however, you will almost always need protection and stabilization of some kind.

People with tennis elbow might benefit from an air splint.
People with tennis elbow might benefit from an air splint.

For injuries that require the arm be protected from shock, the best forearm splint might be an inflatable one. The cushion of air typically shapes the splint to the contour of the limb. It also applies uniform pressure to the forearm, keeps circulation going, and reduces swelling. Another advantage is that air forearm splints are usually transparent, meaning they can be left on when getting an x-ray. It could, however, be popped by a sharp object, and air splints don't always allow for the best ventilation.

Sugar tong splints are common for broken forearms.
Sugar tong splints are common for broken forearms.

Conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow can benefit from an air splint, but there are also specialized braces that are available for these conditions that will allow some movement while keeping some stability and protection. In instances where the elbow is also involved, a long arm splint that keeps the forearm and elbow in place will usually be used. If the fingers also need stabilization, a specialized forearm splint will be used. These have attachments that stabilize the fingers.

An individual suffering from a strained tendon may benefit from the use of a forearm splint.
An individual suffering from a strained tendon may benefit from the use of a forearm splint.

If the arm is broken, you will probably get a volar splint or sugar tong splint. The splint will usually be very stiff and made of aluminum, plastic, or fiberglass, and have a stiff metal piece for stabilization. These types of splints usually start from the palm, go up the forearm, and stop before they reach the elbow.

There are many variations on this particular type of splint. Important factors to consider are ease of removal and ventilation. Some forearm splints wrap completely around the arm, while others leave open areas exposed and have stiff components held in place by latches or Velcro®. Velcro® will breathe better, but latches may provide an extra layer of protection.

Some of the repetitive motions used in tennis place great stress on the player's forearm tendons.
Some of the repetitive motions used in tennis place great stress on the player's forearm tendons.

If you need something cheap or simple and have only slightly injured the wrist or forearm, a simple volar splint with Velcro® will probably work. A thick, cloth bandage wrapped tightly around the forearm will offer mild stabilization as well and is usually cheaper, but it doesn’t breathe as well. It is always best to check with a doctor whenever you are injured to verify the extent of any damage and to make sure you are getting the correct forearm splint for your condition.

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    • Forearm splints are usually transparent, so they can be left on when getting an x-ray.
      By: Silvia Crisman
      Forearm splints are usually transparent, so they can be left on when getting an x-ray.
    • People with tennis elbow might benefit from an air splint.
      By: .shock
      People with tennis elbow might benefit from an air splint.
    • Sugar tong splints are common for broken forearms.
      By: leschnyhan
      Sugar tong splints are common for broken forearms.
    • An individual suffering from a strained tendon may benefit from the use of a forearm splint.
      By: Monkey Business
      An individual suffering from a strained tendon may benefit from the use of a forearm splint.
    • Some of the repetitive motions used in tennis place great stress on the player's forearm tendons.
      By: Andres Rodriguez
      Some of the repetitive motions used in tennis place great stress on the player's forearm tendons.