Posted October 8, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 3 min read

A splint is a supportive device that protects a broken bone or injury. A splint keeps the injured part of your body still to help with pain and promote healing. Some splints are flexible and some are rigid.

Uses of Splints

Splints are used to treat different types of injuries. Sometimes a splint is used before a cast, and sometimes a splint is used alone. Injuries that are treated with splints include:

  • Broken bones

  • Sprains

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Dislocated bones

  • Strains

  • Tendon ruptures

Difference between Splint and a Cast

  • Casts and splints are both orthopedic devices that support and protect injured ligaments, bones, tendons, and other tissues.

  • They are both hard wraps.

  • If you have a broken bone, a splint or cast may be used to help keep the broken ends of your bone together to help it heal.

  • Casts are custom-made to fit your arm or leg.

  • They are made of plaster or fiberglass and must be removed in your doctor’s office.

  • A cast wraps completely around your injury.

  • Casts are not adjustable and may have to be replaced if they get loose because the swelling goes down.

  • Casts provide more support than a splint.

  • Splints are also called half-casts.

  • They don’t provide as much support as a cast.

  • The hard part of a splint doesn’t wrap all the way around your injury.

  • It’s held in place with an elastic bandage or other material.

  • A splint may be applied first if you have a lot of swelling.

  • Splints can be custom-made or ready-made.

Instructions to take care of a Splint

If you have a removable splint, follow your doctor’s instructions about when you can remove it. Your doctor will also tell you if you can walk or put weight on your splint. Other general care tips include:

  • Place your arm or leg on a pillow above the level of your heart as often as you can over the next 3 days to help reduce swelling.

  • Ice the limb for 10 to 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days or until the swelling goes down.

  • Don’t get your splint wet.

  • Wiggle your fingers or toes if they aren’t injured to help move the blood in your injured limb.

  • Talk to your doctor about how to maintain your muscle strength and tone while you’re in a splint.

  • Don’t stick anything under your splint to scratch.

  • If you’re itching and can’t remove your splint, try blowing cool air under your splint from a blow dryer or fan.

  • Don’t use oils or lotions near your splint.

  • If your splint is irritating your skin, pad the edges with moleskin or tape.

  • If you can’t take off your splint, cover it with plastic sheeting while you take a shower.

  • If you can remove your splint to take a shower, dry your skin well before you put it back on.

Complications of Splints

Complications from splints can range from minor to severe, and may include:

  • Bone movement - If you have a fracture that’s been set, your bones may move out of place.

  • Skin irritation - You may develop pressure sores or other types of skin redness or irritation.

  • Stiffness in your joint - Your joint may become stiff after being held still in a splint.

  • Burns - Fiberglass and plaster splints can cause heat burns.

  • Neurovascular injury - Some types of dislocations and fractures can cause damage to your nerves or arteries when they are repaired.

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