In many sports, regular finger injuries are a fact of life. Football goalkeepers, netball players and cricket fielders get their fingers bent back when catching balls. Rugby players get stamped on. Skiers fall and land on their outstretched hands. The list goes on… With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of five of the best splints for finger hyperextensions, sprains and fractures.
1. Sugar Tong Finger Splints
A comparatively new product on the market, but a very useful one. Sugar tong splints hold the entire length of the finger in a neutral, extended position which reduces the level of ongoing pain and encourages trouble-free healing and rehabilitation. Although a sugar tong splint cradles the finger itself in soft and comfortable foam, the outer shell is made of hard, rigid aluminium – so you’re protected from jarring your sorry digit as you go about your daily business.
2. Finger Cold Packs
A combination of splinting and cold therapy, finger cold packs provide double-action treatment. They splint the whole length of the finger, while simultaneously cooling it down to reduce swelling and pain. Simply worn like a sleeve over the finger, these cold packs are ideal for providing pain relief and support during the acute phase of a finger injury.
3. Bedford Double Finger Splint
Bedford splints may look low-tech – and, quite frankly, they are – but they remain a reliable and easy way of providing light support to injured fingers. A bedford splint is simply two stockinette tubes stitched side-by-side, and is worn to hold an injured finger against the adjacent finger. It’s a bit like the age-old practice of taping two fingers together for support, with the advantage that you can just slip the splint off when you need to wash your hands.
4. Mallet Finger Splint
A little more specialized than the other splints on this list, mallet splints are specifically designed to treat mallet finger. This is a condition where the final joint of the finger cannot be fully extended, usually due to tendon damage following hyperextension or an ‘end-on’ impact. It’s quite common in sports that involve catching – in fact, in the US it is also known as baseball finger – and a mallet splint is worn to hold the joint straight while the damage heals. You can also use a mallet splint to protect other injuries to the end of the finger or the nail bed. Click here to find out how to size a mallet splint.
5. Zinc Oxide Tape
The humble zinc oxide tape is still one of the most useful all-round products for dealing with finger injuries in sport. At its simplest, you can simply wrap it around the finger (as pictured) to provide mechnical support of the joints or barrier protection of calluses and blister hot spots. You can also use it to tape two fingers together (usually above and below the middle knuckles) which is a quick and simple of way creating a fairly rigid, single-use splint. Alternatively, you can tape a piece of stiff material – for instance, a length of ice lolly stick or a section of SAM splint – directly to the finger to immobilise it.
Click here to view the range of finger injury treatment products in the Physical Sports First Aid webshop.