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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

How to Splint a Finger

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Medical professionals use finger splints to treat sprained, broken, or dislocated fingers. It's important to seek medical attention for a finger injury, but you may need to apply a temporary splint in some situations. Assess the injury to determine if it requires immediate medical attention. Then, apply a temporary splint and first aid until you can see someone. After that, follow your doctor’s instructions for how to care for the splint and your injured finger.


[Edit]Applying a Temporary Splint and First Aid

  1. Assess the injury and stop using the finger immediately. It’s important to stop using the finger for anything after you injure it. No matter how you got the injury, stop what you’re doing and assess the injured finger. Seek immediate medical attention if your finger:[1]
    Splint a Finger Step 1 Version 2.jpg
    • Feels numb or you cannot move it
    • Hurts, especially in the bones over the joints
    • Has red streaks extending from the injury
    • Has been injured before
    • Is cut or broken and the bone is visible
  2. Place the finger against a splint or clean popsicle stick. If you have a minor sprain, you can splint it until you can see a doctor. Buy a splint in the first aid section of a drug store or use a straight, hard object. Choose something that is about the same length or slightly longer than the finger. A clean tongue depressor or popsicle stick works well. Once you have a splint, press it against the underside of the injured finger and hold it there gently. Don't squeeze the finger or apply pressure to the injured area.[2]
    Splint a Finger Step 2 Version 2.jpg
    • Make sure to position the splint so that it is under the injured joint.
  3. Wrap medical tape above and below the point of injury. Next, secure the splint to the finger by wrapping medical tape around it 3 times at 2 separate points. Wrap medical tape around the finger at the base of the fingernail and above the knuckle next to the hand. Make sure that the tape is snug, but still loose enough to ensure good circulation.[3]
    Splint a Finger Step 3 Version 2.jpg
    • If you don’t have medical tape, you can also use regular clear tape.
  4. Apply ice to the injured finger to reduce pain and swelling. Wrap an ice pack in a towel or paper towel and press it against the injured finger. Ice the finger for 10 to 20 minutes, and then remove it from the ice pack. Then, wait for the skin to return to its normal temperature before icing it again. This will take about 1 to 2 hours.[4]
    Splint a Finger Step 4 Version 3.jpg
    • If you don’t have an ice pack, a bag of frozen corn or peas also works well. Just wrap it in a clean cloth or paper towel first.
  5. Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain. If the finger hurts, take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. This will help you to get some relief. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how much to take and how often to take it.[5]
    Splint a Finger Step 5 Version 2.jpg
    • Keep in mind that the pain should start to subside after the first 24 to 48 hours. However, if the pain is worse or isn’t improving, call your doctor.
  6. Keep your hand elevated above the level of your heart. Holding your affected hand above the level of your heart will help to reduce swelling. Prop your hand up on a pillow while you’re seated or lying down, or hold it up near your shoulder while you’re standing.[6]
    Splint a Finger Step 6 Version 2.jpg

[Edit]Seeking Medical Attention

  1. See a doctor for an injured finger as soon as possible. If you have a sprained or broken finger, call you doctor or visit an urgent care center for treatment. Your healthcare provider will assess the injured finger and apply an appropriate splint for the location and type of injury. They may also need to realign the finger before placing it in a splint, but they'll give you a local anesthetic to numb the finger first.[7]
    Splint a Finger Step 7 Version 2.jpg
    • The sooner you get treatment for a sprained or broken finger, the better. Depending on the severity of the injury, it may take up to 3 to 4 months to heal. But delaying treatment can delay healing and lead to other complications, such as a skin infection.
  2. Get X-rays to determine what type of injury you have. Your doctor will likely order X-rays to see if the finger is broken, dislocated, or sprained. This can help them to determine what type of splint will work best and whether they need to realign the bones before applying a splint.[8]
    Splint a Finger Step 8 Version 2.jpg
  3. Let the healthcare professional apply a splint to your injured finger. After your doctor reviews the X-rays, they can determine what type of splint will work best and apply it. There are different types of splints and your doctor will choose the best option depending on the location and type of injury. Some common types include:[9]
    Splint a Finger Step 9 Version 2.jpg
    • Mallet finger splint for correcting a finger that you cannot straighten[10]
    • Aluminum U-shaped splint for a distal phalangeal fracture
    • Dorsal extension block splint for a joint dislocation[11]
  4. Get a tetanus shot and antibiotics if the finger was cut. If you cut your finger, your doctor will likely recommend a tetanus shot to protect you against tetanus. They may also recommend a topical or oral antibiotic to prevent a skin infection.[12]
    Splint a Finger Step 10 Version 2.jpg
  5. Discuss surgical options with your doctor if the injury is severe. If your finger is severely injured, it may not heal properly without surgery. Discuss surgical repair options with your doctor if they recommend surgery. However, keep in mind that this is uncommon. Most finger injuries heal well with a splint in about 4 to 8 weeks.[13]
    Splint a Finger Step 11 Version 2.jpg

[Edit]Caring for the Splint

  1. Cover the splint with a plastic bag when you bathe. It’s important to keep the splint clean and dry. Cover your whole hand with a plastic bag whenever you take a shower or bath. Place a plastic bag over your hand and then secure it at your wrist with a rubber band. Use your other hand to wash yourself and angle your hand so that water won’t get into the bag.[14]
    Splint a Finger Step 12 Version 2.jpg
    • Remove the plastic bag right after you finish your shower and pat your hand and the splint dry if needed.
  2. Wear the splint for as long as your doctor advises. It may take up to 8 weeks for your finger to heal depending on the severity of the injury. Keep the splint on during the day and at night until your doctor tells you it’s okay to stop wearing it. Not wearing the splint as instructed can lead to delayed healing or re-injury of the finger.[15]
    Splint a Finger Step 13 Version 2.jpg
  3. Check your finger daily to ensure that you have good circulation. If you notice that your finger is an unusual color or if it feels numb, tingly, or painful, the splint may be too tight. Remove the splint by pulling or cutting off the tape and contact your doctor as soon as possible.[16]
    Splint a Finger Step 14 Version 2.jpg
  4. See your doctor if the splint feels uncomfortable. Never try to trim a splint on your own. If the splint feels uncomfortable or if it has rough edges that are irritating you, call your doctor and make an appointment. They can trim or adjust the splint for you to make it more comfortable.[17]
    Splint a Finger Step 15 Version 2.jpg



  • Do not attempt to treat a broken, sprained, or dislocated finger at home.


[Edit]Quick Summary

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