A finger splint is used to protect an injured finger. Its primary purpose is to keep the finger immobile and prevent it from bending. In addition, it can help ease a finger back into motion after being stuck in a bent position due to arthritis, surgery, or other reasons. Manufactured finger splints are usually made of metal or plastic. Homemade splints can be made of practically any flat object, including wood.
The broken or sprained finger can be swollen and painful. Such injuries occur through smashing, jamming, or bending the finger in the wrong direction. Fractures and sprains to fingers do not typically require a cast. Finger splints are purchased over the counter or placed by a health care professional.
A simple finger splint is a buddy splint. In a buddy splint, the injured finger is taped together with the nearest non-injured finger. The taping immobilizes both fingers and prevents them from bending separately. This simple finger splint technique is often used for injuries to finger ligaments. It is also popular in the treatment of dislocated knuckles or sprains caused by finger jamming injuries.
The tape should be placed both above and below the injured area. Ring finger injuries should be taped with the smallest finger. This protects the small finger from injury. Buddy finger splints should not be used for fractured fingers.
For tendon damage or fracture, a static finger splint is used. The static splint conforms to the finger shape and is meant to protect the finger as it heals. This splint allows the finger to be positioned for optimum healing. Static splints are typically made of pliable metal, with a soft lining on one side. Some splints only go on the finger's underside, while others completely encase the finger for further protection.
A stack finger splint is used when various medical conditions force the finger joint closest to the nail to become constantly bent. The splint fits on the edge of the finger and goes past the offending bent joint. It forces the joint to remain in an unbent position, while allowing the other joints to bend freely. Most stack splints are made of plastic.
The dynamic finger splint provides optimum long-term relief for fingers bent from arthritis. Metal, foam, and plastic are combined to make this splint. Patients typically wear them at night while sleeping. A spring-loaded device allows finger-stretching adjustments.
Homemade splints taped to the underside of the injured finger work for minor sprains and injuries. Flat, wooden craft sticks are a good size and shape for homemade splints. Medical care should be sought if the injured finger is deformed, still painful after one hour of rest, or numb.