Hand & Finger Splints: Thumb Spica & Finger

Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

Finger and thumb injuries are quite common and often require the use of a thumb spica splint or a specific type of finger splint. Be sure to check out this lesson for lots of information regarding these types of splints.

Accidental Broken Finger

Heather is a 27-year-old who has a 3-year old girl named Olivia. A few days ago, Heather came home form work, and Olivia ran towards her and jumped up into her arms. However, when Olivia jumped, Heather's thumb got caught in her shirt, causing it to bend unnaturally to the side. Heather let out a loud yelp due to the pain.

Within about 15 minutes, Heather's thumb became very difficult to move. She decided to go to the ER to get the finger looked at by a doctor. After performing x-days on the thumb, a doctor told Heather that she had fractured a bone in her thumb and that she would need to wear a thumb spica splint for a few days until the swelling went away. Once the swelling went away, the doctor would then put the thumb in a cast.

Injuries to the fingers and thumb (including fractures, dislocations, and sprains) are quite common. Just like with Heather, a person can injure a finger by doing something as simple and basic as playing with a young child. These types of injuries often require the finger to be placed in a splint. Splints keep the finger protected and immobilized,which helps to prevent further damage and improves the healing process.

There are various types of finger and thumb splints that are commonly used. This type of splint is called buddy taping.
buddy taping

Thumb Spica Splint

A thumb spica splint is used to treat thumb fractures, sprains, dislocations, and fractures to the scaphoid, which is the small bone in the wrist that is directly under the thumb. Thumb spica splints are usually applied to the inner part (thumb side) of the arm, typically extending from the upper part of the forearm down to the last joint of the thumb.

Thumb spica splints are applied with the wrist extended (bent backwards) at a 25-degree angle and the thumb in a position as if the hand were holding a can of soda. These splints are usually worn during the first few days following the injury to the thumb. During this time, the thumb is often very swollen, and a cast cannot be put on the thumb while it is swollen. Therefore, a temporary thumb spica splint is used because it allows extra room for any additional swelling. Once the swelling goes away, a doctor will often put the thumb in a cast.

Finger Splints

Finger splints are used to treat injuries to the finger such as fractures, sprains, and dislocations. There are many different types of finger splints, and the following table describes these various splints.

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