by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Okay, class. In recent posts, I’ve written about finger injuries and how to treat them. In case you weren’t quite able to grasp :-) how to make the different finger splints, I’ve made you a video. My homemade splints may not be the prettiest, but they should be as effective as any until you can get definitive medical treatment.

Whether the splint’s metal, wood, or the uninjured finger next to the injured one (a buddy splint), the objective is the same: keep the injured area stable until it heals. In the video I show how I’d make a finger splint for the following:

  • Jammed fingers, sprains, reduced dislocations: For increased finger function, bend the splint so your finger joints are flexed a little. A buddy splint can work also.
  • Fractured fingers: Unless the bone is crooked, you’re not going to know whether the finger is broken without an X-ray. So if seems like bone might move—if it isn’t stable—use a regular splint and not the buddy type.
  • Mallet finger: The tendon must mend. Splint the joint straight, and splint it for eight weeks continuously, never letting the injured joint bend during that time.
  • Boutonniere deformity: As with the mallet finger, you can’t allow a boutonniere deformity to bend, even when changing splints.

finger-splintWarnings

  • Medical personnel can do X-rays and individualize your splinting. Sometimes these injuries require surgery, or anesthesia to straighten a joint. Even if you do everything right, the finger may still end up crooked, but your best bet is definitive medical care.
  • Any joint that’s immobilized for long is going to stiffen. After treatment you’re going to have to work, get the movement back, like squeeze a rubber ball. This may take days, even weeks.