- What Is
What are splints?
Splints are usually applied to reduce movement and provide support and comfort by stabilizing an injury. They are primarily used during nonemergency injuries to the bones or ligaments until they can be evaluated by a consultant such as an orthopedic surgeon. They are also used to temporarily immobilize an extremity before surgery (e.g., for an open fracture) or enable healing.
Unlike casts, splints are preferred in an emergency setting when the injuries are acute and swelling may continuously increase. All patients with splinted injuries should be referred for evaluation by a consultant within two to seven days.
How does an ulnar gutter splint work?
An ulnar gutter splint is a flexible splint that is used to support, stabilize, and immobilize injuries, dislocations and fractures of the hands, fingers, or wrists to allow the bones and tissues to heal properly.
What is an ulnar gutter splint used for?
An ulnar gutter splint can be used for various injuries in the hand including the following:
When is an ulnar gutter splint not done?
There are no absolute contraindications for ulnar gutter splinting. Relative contraindications involve the following injuries that require an immediate evaluation or intervention by a consultant (an orthopedic surgeon, a hand surgeon, or a plastic surgeon):
- Complicated fractures
- Open fractures
- Injuries with associated neurovascular compromise
How do you wrap an ulnar gutter splint?
- Ulnar gutter splinting is usually tolerated without the use of anesthesia. In case of significant pain during joint manipulation or reduction of fracture, anesthesia and painkillers would be required.
- There are various types of ulnar gutter splints that are made of various materials and have different techniques of application. Ulnar gutter splints are generally applied by a healthcare professional.
- The injured limb is completely exposed.
- A stockinette covering the pinky finger extends beyond the wrist till just before the elbow.
- Soft padding is applied over the stockinette. The padding should extend 2-3 cm beyond the overlying plaster on both ends.
- Plaster of Paris (POP) is applied over the padding. A bandage wrap is applied over the wet plaster.
- The thumb and wrist remain immobile until the splint is dry. The patient may feel some warmth released from the plaster as it dries.
- In case of a simple sprain, the doctor may advise a simple brace with Velcro clips or a bandage wrap to be worn for two to six weeks to immobilize the injured area.
- The patient is advised to rest, elevate and ice the injured limb. If the patient experiences weakness, numbness, color change (pale or bluish), increasing pressure or pain or spreading redness, it is advised to remove the splint and visit the emergency department right away.
- The splint must be kept clean and dry. Patients can be tempted to use sticks, pens, or hangers to scratch an itch inside the splint. Sticking objects into the splint to scratch yourself can wrinkle the padding and lead to pressure injuries or cause cuts in the skin and potentially an infection. The splint is usually rechecked in 48 hours by the doctor.
What are the complications of ulnar gutter splints?
Complications to ulnar gutter splints include the following:
- Thermal burns due to the warmth as the plaster dries
- Pressure sores
- Contact dermatitis
- Neurovascular compromise (damage to the nerves and blood vessels)
- Decreased range of motion from immobilization.
Hence, aftercare often requires physical therapy.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Medscape Medical Reference
Top What Is an Ulnar Gutter Splint Used For Related Articles
Arthritis (Joint Inflammation)Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. When joints are inflamed they can develop stiffness, warmth, swelling, redness and pain. There are over 100 types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, gout, and pseudogout.
Physical and Occupational Therapy for ArthritisPhysical therapy can help a patient with arthritis to work out stiffness without damaging their joints. Occupational therapy teaches the patient how to reduce joint strain during daily activities. Those receiving occupational or physical therapy will learn about their arthritis, be given a dietary plan if they are overweight, get foot care advice, and learn methods of relieving discomfort.
Broken BoneA broken bone is a fracture. There are different types of fractures, such as:
- vertebral compression,
- compound, and
Symptoms of a broken bone include pain at the site of injury, swelling, and bruising around the area of injury. Treatment of a fracture depends on the type and location of the injury.
GoutBuildup of uric acid crystals in a joint causes gouty arthritis. Symptoms and signs include joint pain, swelling, heat, and redness, typically of a single joint. Gout may be treated with diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medication.
Osteoarthritis (OA)Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. Also known as degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, heredity, and injury from trauma or disease.
OA of the Knee ExercisesLearn about osteoarthritis and exercises that relieve knee osteoarthritis pain, stiffness and strengthen the knee joint and surrounding muscles through this picture slideshow.
Osteoarthritis SlideshowOsteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease most often affecting major joints such as knees, hands, back, or hips. Osteoarthritis symptoms include pain, swelling and joint inflammation.
Osteoarthritis QuizHow does osteoarthritis differ from other types of arthritis? Learn about osteoarthritis with this quiz.
What Is an Osteochondral Grafting of Articular Cartilage Injuries?Osteochondral grafting is a method of treating such conditions of cartilage damage where the underlying bone is exposed. The procedure is typically performed for weight-bearing joints such as the knees, but it may be performed for other joints too. Complications include pain, swelling, bruising, bleeding, infection, an injury to the surrounding nerves and blood vessels, and graft failure.
Psoriatic Arthritis PicturePsoriatic arthritis is a specific condition in which a person has both psoriasis and arthritis. See a picture of Psoriatic Arthritis and learn more about the health topic.
Reactive ArthritisReactive arthritis is a chronic, systemic rheumatic disease characterized by three conditions, including conjunctivitis, joint inflammation, and genital, urinary, or gastrointestinal system inflammation. Inflammation leads to pain, swelling, warmth, redness, and stiffness of the affected joints. Non-joint areas may experience irritation and pain. Treatment for reactive arthritis depends on which area of the body is affected. Joint inflammation is treated with anti-inflammatory medications.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid disease. The 16 characteristic early RA signs and symptoms include the following.
- Both sides of the body affected (symmetric)
- Joint deformity
- Joint pain
- Joint redness
- Joint stiffness
- Joint swelling
- Joint tenderness
- Joint warmth
- Loss of joint function
- Loss of joint range of motion
- Many joints affected (polyarthritis)
16 Early Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms and SignsEarly RA symptoms and signs vary differently from person to person. The most common body parts that are initially affected by RA include the small joints of the hands, wrists, and feet, and the knees and hip joints. Joint inflammation causes stiffness. Warmth, redness, and pain may vary in degree.
RA Friendly ExercisesRegular exercise boosts fitness and helps reverse joint stiffness for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Our experts offer helpful exercises to get you started.
RA SlideshowWhat is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? Learn about treatment, diagnosis, and the symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Discover rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes and the best medication for RA and JRA.
RA QuizHow is rheumatoid arthritis different from other forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and gout? Take the Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Quiz to rest your RA IQ.
Steroids: for the Treatment of ArthritisSteroids decrease inflammation and may be used to treat many inflammatory conditions and diseases, such as systemic vasculitis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and Sjögren's syndrome. Steroids are injected, rather than administered orally, to deliver a high dose of medication to a specific area. Side effects of steroid injections include infection, tendon rupture, skin discoloration, allergic reaction, and weakening of bone, ligaments, and tendons.