Wrist and hand splints may be recommended for you if you need protection and support for painful, swollen or weak joints in your hands or wrists. Their designs make sure you position your wrist and hands correctly.
There are two types of hand or wrist splint:
Resting splints support your joints when you’re resting and can help to ease pain and inflammation. They can be useful if you have a painful flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis or a period of joint discomfort, when you may need to rest your hands for short spells during the day or night.
Resting splints are usually made from a moulded thermoplastic and are fitted with Velcro fastening straps. They’re normally custom-made by your physiotherapist, occupational therapist or orthotist.
You may find that a resting splint:
You should wear your resting splint:
You may find it helpful to leave the strap over the fingers done up so that you can slide your hand in or out. This means there’s one less strap to undo.
Working splints support your wrist and hand joints while you’re using your hands. They can be worn when you carry out daily tasks and should make the job less painful. They can also help by keeping your wrist joint in an efficient position when doing a job and may help to make your wrist and hand feel stronger. However, because these splints support your wrist and hand firmly they may also make these joints feel a little less flexible.
Working splints are usually made of an elastic or light synthetic rubber-type fabric (e.g. neoprene) with Velcro straps. They’re usually available to purchase from physiotherapists, occupational therapists, medical device suppliers and pharmacies.
You may find that a working splint:
You should wear your working splint:
If you want to wear any type of working splint while driving, contact your insurance company first for advice about whether your cover will be affected.
For further information contact a member of your rheumatology team or the supplier of the splint.
This is a wrap-around splint that has a metal bar inserted in a pocket on the palm side of your wrist. This helps to stabilise your wrist joint in a comfortable and efficient position.
This is a wrap-around splint that gives light support to your wrist.
This is a wrap-around splint that goes around your thumb and wrist. Some have an extra support for the thumb joints. This helps to stabilise the thumb.
Check your skin regularly for any signs of redness or soreness – if your skin is sore when you wear your splint then contact your rheumatology department or the supplier of the splint. It may be that you’re allergic to the material of the splint, or that it’s rubbing and causing too much pressure on your skin.
Don’t wear your splint all the time, otherwise your joints may become stiff. Don’t wear your working splint overnight unless you’ve been told to by your therapist or nurse.
When you take the splint off, make sure that you do some gentle wrist, finger and thumb exercises to help stop your joints from stiffening up.
Stop wearing your splint if it:
Clean your resting splint by wiping it with a damp cloth. You may use warm, soapy water or a mild detergent. Use a towel to dry it and don’t store it on a sunny window sill or near a radiator.
When carrying out some activities wear cotton or rubber gloves over the splint to help prevent it from getting dirty or wet, for example when gardening or cleaning.
If the splint contains a metal bar you should remove it (if possible) before the splint is washed. Check the position of the bar and be careful to replace it in the same position after washing the splint.
Working splints can be handwashed in warm soapy water and then air-dried. Some splints can be washed in a washing machine, but you should check the label. It’s a good idea to place the splint in a pillowcase first to prevent the Velcro attaching to other washing.
Most rheumatology departments will have members of the team who can make these splints for you, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and orthotists. Resting splints are also sometimes available from medical device suppliers and online.
Most rheumatology departments and occupational therapy or physiotherapy departments working with a rheumatology service will stock working splints.
They can be purchased from some medical device suppliers, pharmacies, sports shops, mobility equipment shops and online.
We don’t recommend that you buy splints yourself unless you’ve received advice from your rheumatology team, so you can be sure a splint purchased online is appropriate and effective for you.
You shouldn’t borrow or use other people’s splints, or let them use yours, as they won’t have been designed to suit your own needs.