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How Do I Apply a Sugar Tong Splint?

Sugar tong splints are typically used on the lower arm.
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  • Written By: Emily Daw
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2014
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A sugar tong splint, which is used to immobilize a broken or fractured bone, is applied in a number of different ways depending on the exact type of splint. Most sugar tong splints are meant for use on the lower arms. Some are made of metal or fiberglass with built-in padding. These are designed to be applied directly to the skin, and only require you to place the splint in the appropriate position and then wrap it. Others are made completely out of plaster and must be appropriately padded, set and then wrapped.

First, you should appropriately position the joints on either side of the affected bone. The elbow should be bent at a 90-degree angle, and the wrist and fingers should be left in a natural position. Often, the thumb and forefinger are placed so that they form a "C" shape.

Once the joints are set, you must pad the area so that the edges of the sugar tong splint will not rub or chafe the patient's skin. You can use foam or cloth specifically designed for this purpose to hold the sugar tong splint slightly away from the affected area. If you are using a splint with built-in padding, this step will most likely be unnecessary. You should, however, double check the area after applying the splint even if it is pre-padded.

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You are now ready to set the splint. Some splints are made of flexible materials that are simply bent into the correct shape for the patient's arm. When using one of these types of splits, you will simply need to wrap it with some sort of gauze or fabric.

Others must be molded into place with plaster. To apply plaster to a sugar tong splint, you must first wet the long plaster strips with cool or room-temperature water. Squeeze gently to remove the extra water, then wrap the strips around the splint. The plaster will set within about half an hour.

The patient will then usually need to be fitted with a sling. This keeps the patient from having to hold his or her arm at an uncomfortable angle. The sling should hold the arm close to the body, while supporting the shoulder.

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