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What Is a Ring Splint?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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A ring splint is a type of brace or immobilizer that is commonly used to support injuries or chronic conditions affecting the fingers. Injury to the fingers is common in athletes and active children and chronic conditions, such as arthritis, can cause joint problems in older adults. When there is injury to a joint or surrounding ligaments and tendons a ring splint may be used to promote healing, prevent further injury, or as a form of therapy to help restore a disfigured joint to a more normal position. Depending on the frequency of use and need for affordability, ring splints can be made of plastic or various metals, including silver. A ring splint slides onto the finger like a ring and may be designed to fit one finger or be worn on adjacent fingers.

The hand is an intricate system of bones, joints, tendons, nerves and ligaments. Some injuries may cause acute deformity and temporarily impair hand function. If the injury is severe enough, a ring splint may be necessary to help immobilize the joints of a finger in order to allow the finger to heal properly. If a condition or injury results in hyperextension, curling, or abduction, a ring splint helps to hold a digit in its proper place.

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People who suffer from chronic arthritis or tendinitis in the hands may find it necessary to wear a ring splint as a form of therapy and injury prevention. When a joint condition causes deformation of a finger or fingers and a digit sticks out from the hand at an awkward angle, there is an increased risk of breaking the bone during normal activity. A ring splint can help prevent further injury as well as promote proper placement and prevent permanent nerve damage. One of the advantages of a ring splint over a finger splint is the ability to immobilize a select joint or joints, while still allowing for movement of the finger. A qualified physician is able to make a determination for which type of splint, if any, is ideal for a given injury.

Injuries and disease of the hand should be treated by an orthopedic physician specializing in the hand. Family physicians and general practitioners are capable of identifying and treating injuries, but a proper diagnosis and course of therapy or treatment may be essential to repairing the injury, preventing nerve damage and regaining full use of the hand where possible. Signs of possible nerve damage include an inability to pinch objects or the inability to straighten all five digits of the hand.

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