WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
A splint is a device that supports and protects body parts that have been injured, such as a broken bone or muscle sprain. A splint may also be worn after surgery. A splint is sometimes called a half-cast because it does not wrap around an entire body area like a cast does. A splint is used to decrease pain and stop or limit movement so you can heal. Unlike casts, caregivers can easily adjust a splint if you have swelling or pain after an injury.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medicine may decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine can be bought with or without a doctor's order. This medicine can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your primary healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow the directions on it before using this medicine.
- Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed within 1 to 2 weeks:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
How long you need to wear your splint:
Your primary healthcare provider will tell you how long to wear your splint. Most splints are worn from days to weeks, depending on your injury. Many fractures can take 4 to 8 weeks to heal. Serial splints may be worn longer. Some splints can be taken off at certain times of the day. Ask your primary healthcare provider when, or if, your splint should be adjusted or removed.
How to care for your splint:
- Wait for your hard splint to harden completely. Wait about 30 minutes to walk on a fiberglass splint. You may have to wait up to 3 days before you can walk on a plaster splint.
- Check your splint and the skin around it each day. Check your splint for damage, such as cracks and breaks. Check your skin for redness, increased swelling, and sores.
- Keep your splint dry. Before you bathe, wrap your hard splint with 2 layers of plastic, then put a plastic bag over it. Keep the plastic bag tightly sealed. You can also ask your primary healthcare provider about waterproof shields. Do not put your hard splint in the water , even with a plastic bag over it. A wet splint can make your skin itchy, and may lead to infection.
- Keep your splint clean. Keep dirt out of your splint.
- Loosen the elastic bandage around your splint if it feels too tight.
- Do not put powders or deodorants inside your splint, because they can dry your skin and increase itching.
- Do not try to scratch the skin inside your hard splint with sharp objects. Sharp objects can break off inside your splint or hurt your skin.
- Do not pull the padding out of your splint. The padding inside your splint protects your skin. You may get severe sores on your skin if you take out the padding.
Treat pain and swelling:
- Rest and elevation: Raise your splinted area above the level of your heart for 1 to 3 days. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your splinted area on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
- Ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your injury for 30 minutes at a time, for the first 2 days. Use the ice as often as your primary healthcare provider has directed.
- Gentle movement: Wiggle your fingers and toes often. Gentle movement helps reduce stiffness and swelling.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- Your hard splint gets wet or is damaged.
- You have a fever.
- Your splint feels tighter.
- You have itchy, dry skin under your splint that is getting worse.
- The skin under your splint is red, or you have a new sore.
- There is a bad smell coming from your splint.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have increased pain.
- Your fingers or toes are numb or tingling.
- You feel burning or stinging around your injury.
- Your nails, fingers, or toes turn pale, blue, or gray, and feel cold.
- You have new or increased trouble moving your fingers or toes.
- Your swelling gets worse. You may see more swelling in your fingers or toes below your splint.
- The skin under your splint is bleeding or leaking pus.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.