When injuries occur in the hand or wrist, the joints within that region of the limb will need to be stabilized to prevent further injury and to help promote faster healing. When such injuries occur, a boxer splint is often used to accomplish this immobilization. This type of splint is so named because fractures treated with this splint often occur among boxers who land punches with direct force. The boxer splint is usually specific to either the left or right hand and cannot be interchangeable for either hand.
Boxer's fractures usually occur in the third and fourth fingers, commonly known as the ring finger and the pinky finger. The boxer splint will therefore generally immobilize these digits while leaving the first and second finger, as well as the thumb, free to move as normal. The splint itself is likely to feature a rigid material such as plastic, or in some cases aluminum, that will brace the injured digits in place, thereby preventing any movement. Most minor to moderate fractures will heal on their own if they are immobilized, though more severe fractures may require surgical attention to place screws in the bone to permanently stabilize it. The boxer splint will therefore be used after surgery.
The splint will generally cover the hand, or at least half of the hand closest to the injured digits, and it is likely to extend up the arm to cover the wrist. Immobilizing the wrist will help ensure the digits do not move more than necessary, especially during daily activities. The part of the boxer splint that covers the wrist is likely to be made from a softer, more flexible material than the part of the splint that stabilizes the fingers; this allows for some wrist movement while preventing excess movement that can lead to re-injury. The compression provided by the splint can also help stimulate blood flow to the hand and wrist, thereby promoting faster healing times.
This type of brace is usually prescribed by a doctor, though it is possible to buy a boxer splint from some retail establishments and use it without a prescription. This is generally inadvisable, however, as a doctor should do a thorough assessment of any injury to the hand or wrist to determine whether a more aggressive course of treatment may be in order. As the fracture heals, a doctor will also have to inspect the injured hand to ensure the injury is healing properly.