A splint works by protecting a fracture or other injury. If a removable splint is used, it is important to carefully follow the instructions given by the doctor and only remove it if instructed to do so.
Most types of splints can be adjusted. The doctor will provide instructions on how to do this and inform when it requires adjustments. Many splints are pre-made using either fiberglass or plaster. Some even have a built-in cushion and air pads that are inflated to secure the injured area in place.
Weight on the splint
Avoid placing any weight on the splint. If the individual has a walking boot, the doctor will inform him/her when to place weight on it.
Dealing with the swelling
The splint might feel tight for a few days after an injury or surgical procedure which is due to the swelling. The swelling can slow down the healing and even cause pain. If there is excessive swelling within the splint, it places pressure that can be dangerous.
How to reduce the swelling
- The injured leg or arm should be propped on a cushion or pillow when an ice pack is applied and keep it above the level of the heart if possible.
- Apply the ice pack for 10-20 minutes at a time. This should be done every 1-2 hours for the next 3 days or until the swelling subsides. Make sure that the splint will not get wet.
- In case the toes or fingers on the limb with the splint are not damaged, the individual should wiggle them every now and then. This helps promote movement of the blood and fluids in the affected limb.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be given to minimize the swelling and pain. Make sure that the instructions on the packaging are carefully followed.
- Make sure that the splint is dry. Remember that moisture can build up under the splint and trigger skin irritation and itchiness.
- Tape a plastic sheet that serves as a cover on the splint when taking a bath or shower.
- If it can be removed when bathing, pat dry the area after bathing and wear the splint again.
- If the splint can be taken off, make sure that the skin is dry before it is placed back on.
- In case it should not be removed, you can try blowing cool air using a hair dryer or fan to alleviate the itchiness. Do not stick any object under the splint just to scratch the skin.
- Avoid using any lotions or oils close to the splint. If the skin turns sore or reddened at the edges, you should place padding on the edges using a soft material.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on splint care is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to manage injuries requiring a splint and how to care for one, register for a first aid and CPR course with one our training providers.