How Are Ring Splints Used for Arthritis Pain? (2022)

Medications can help with the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in your hands. But many people still have residual symptoms, even with optimal drug treatment.

If that applies to you, you might want to consider rings splints. These are a type of hand orthosis, devices used to bring alignment, stability, and support to the joints. Ring splints also may help reduce pain and discomfort in your fingers.

How Ring Splints Help Arthritis

By definition, people with arthritis have some inflammation of the joints. This can have a variety of causes, but the two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Both conditions can cause the joints to be painful and stiff. In some cases, the joints might be swollen. Your hands may not be as strong and flexible as they used to be. You might have difficulty performing certain everyday activities, like opening a jar.

Both conditions can also cause long-term changes to the joints of the hand, particularly if not well-treated. For example, untreated rheumatoid arthritis can lead to permanent deformities in which the bones are stuck in an abnormal position.

Some types of deformities are known by specific names. For example, in the “swan neck” deformity, the middle joint of the finger (PIP joint) is hyperextended (bent toward the palm) and the joint closest to the fingertip (DIP joint) is permanently flexed, with the fingertip pointing to the palm.

Osteoarthritis can also lead to permanent changes in the shape of the hand. For example, one might develop a “boutonniere” deformity, in which the PIP joint is flexed and won’t straighten normally, while the DIP joint extends, resulting in the fingertip being bent back.

(Video) Ring Splints for Arthritis, Hypermobility, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Arthritic joints are also more prone to injury than non-arthritic joints. For example, osteoarthritis joints have less cartilage, so force on the joint results in more wear and tear. Some arthritic joints can be unstable—too loose and wiggly. That very instability can make them even more unstable and even more prone to pain and injury over time.

Potential Benefits of Ring Splints

Ring splints limit the motion in a certain joint, such as the DIP joint. They provide solidity to the joint, so that it does not have to move as much.

Because of this, ring splints may be able to reduce potential symptoms. Some positive effects might include:

  • Decreasing pain
  • Decreasing joint inflammation
  • Decreasing joint stress
  • Promoting proper joint alignment
  • Minimizing joint deformities
  • Increasing joint stability
  • Improving joint function

Ring splints give you another avenue to use to manage your arthritis. Potentially, using ring splints with other conservative methods of management might help you avoid joint surgery, or at least delay it.

Who Can Benefit From Ring Splints?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many good scientific studies on the benefits of ring splints. While many people say that they find them helpful, there isn’t detailed information about their effectiveness.

It might be that ring splints are particularly good for people with certain types of arthritis or at specific joints. But we need to learn more.

For Osteoarthritis

Based on the available data, the American College of Rheumatology recommends hand orthoses such as ring splints for people with osteoarthritis of the hand.

(Video) Dr. Stutzman Discusses the Silver Ring Splint on 10TV News HD

They especially recommend hand orthoses if you have osteoarthritis of the CMC joint (the one at the base of your thumb). That’s because the most definitive information is available about the use of hand orthoses in that particular joint.

However, because we don’t have enough solid research, the ACR doesn’t recommend a specific type of hand orthosis, such as ring splints, over other types.

For Other Types of Arthritis of the Hands

The American College of Rheumatology hasn’t made specific recommendations about hand orthoses in other arthritis conditions. That’s because there isn’t a lot of solid scientific data describing their positive effects.

However, there is good reason to think hand orthoses like ring splints might be helpful in other medical conditions that cause arthritis in the hand. For example, this might include conditions such as:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Joint trauma

In any case, ring splints are a comparatively inexpensive, low-risk, and non-invasive option that might be worth trying.

Could Splinting Potentially Harm Joints?

Specific hand exercises can also be an important part of improving your hand strength and managing your arthritis. It’s important to realize that such splints won’t limit the movement throughout your whole hand. You’ll only be limiting movement in certain joints (or maybe just one).

Your healthcare provider can give you information about what exercises you might perform and whether you should take off your ring splints while you do.

(Video) Ring Spints: How they're made and how they work

Some critics of ring splints have expressed concerns that movement is important for joint health. Because of this, they have argued that ring splints and other types of hand orthoses might not be helpful for people with arthritis.

However, others have described and studied their potential benefits. As more rigorous research is done, the picture will become clearer.

Types of Ring Splints

Arthritis can cause many different anatomical problems based on the severity and specific joints affected. Because of this, several different types of ring splints are available. These provide support at different joints and treat different alignment issues.

These have slightly different shapes, but they are designed to fit around your finger much like a regular ring. Many of them are named for the type of deformity they are made to address. Some of these include:

  • Swan neck splint
  • Boutonniere splint
  • Lateral support splint
  • Realignment splint
  • Mallet finger splint
  • Thumb MCP splint
  • Buddy ring splint
  • DIP joint splint

Other types of hand orthoses may be of benefit to people with arthritis. For example, some evidence suggests that specific therapy gloves may reduce pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

(Video) 3 Tips to Decrease Finger Arthritis Pain

Materials Used

Historically, some of the finger orthoses on the market have been unattractive and difficult to put on. Not surprisingly, that made them unappealing for many people with arthritis. However, newer products, including some types of ring splints, have improved on both of these fronts.

Some ring splints are made of plastic or foam and aluminum. Such splints have the advantage of being less expensive, but they are a bit bulky.

Rings splints can also be made of precious metals such as silver and gold. These types of ring splints are often highly decorative and look more like jewelry than a medical device. Such ring splints are generally more durable and long-lasting compared to other types.

Picking the Right Ring Splint

You will need some help to pick out the right splint for you. In some cases, your healthcare provider may be able to make a specific recommendation about the right type of splint.

In other cases, you may need to get a referral to a specialist, such as an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, or a certified hand specialist.

Your therapist will make a recommendation about the best type of splint given your particular disease, its severity, and the specific impact it has had on your hands. They may also talk to you about other possibilities in terms of hand orthoses for arthritis.

They should evaluate your hand function and talk to you about your specific complaints. They will also need to measure you to make sure you get a properly fitting ring splint, and they can answer your questions about ring splint use, such as whether you should wear the splints overnight.

(Video) ALL ABOUT MY SILVER RING SPINTS!

You may want to start with a less expensive type of ring splint to see if you actually find it helpful. If splinting seems to help, it might make more sense to move to the more attractive and long-lasting silver ring splint.

FAQs

How do arthritis ring splints work? ›

Ring splints limit the motion in a certain joint, such as the DIP joint. They provide solidity to the joint, so that it does not have to move as much. Because of this, ring splints may be able to reduce potential symptoms.

Do finger splints help with arthritis pain? ›

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Inexpensive splints worn nightly can reduce the pain of hand osteoarthritis, a chronic ailment that affects a majority of older adults, a new study shows. “It's a well-tolerated, safe and cheap intervention,” rheumatologist Dr.

What splint is used for arthritis? ›

Background. Splints/orthoses are often recommended to patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to decrease pain, reduce swelling, and/or prevent deformity. These orthoses include resting hand splints, wrist supports, finger splints, and special shoes and shoe inserts.

How do I stop my fingers from deforming with arthritis? ›

Ring splints can be worn on any finger to help these problems and other deformities, such as joints that become “stuck” in a hyperextended position or instability at the knuckles from conditions like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, where fingers may cross under or over each other.

Do finger splints straighten arthritic fingers? ›

Wear one or two Oval-8 finger splints to immobilize and protect your fingers comfortably- all day and night. Osteoarthritis can cause crooked (or deviated) fingers in the small joints of your fingers. An Oval-8 worn on the side of the finger joint can help straighten them and may prevent further deformity.

Should I sleep with finger splint on? ›

Your finger will be put in a plastic splint, which keeps it straight, with the end joint slightly bent backwards. You'll still be able to bend your finger at the middle joint. The splint is taped on and must be worn day and night for 6 to 8 weeks to allow the 2 ends of the torn tendon to stay together and heal.

How long should you wear a finger splint? ›

You may need to wear a splint for different lengths of time. If your tendon is only stretched, not torn, it should heal in 4 to 6 weeks if you wear a splint all the time. If your tendon is torn or pulled off the bone, it should heal in 6 to 8 weeks of wearing a splint all the time.

Can arthritis in finger joints be reversed? ›

There is no cure, but healthy lifestyle habits and treatments can help manage your symptoms and keep you active. Non-Drug Treatments: Reducing strain on joints with a splint or brace, adapting hand movements, doing hand exercises or using hot or cold therapy can help to ease pain.

What are the 4 types of splints? ›

Splint Types
  • Long leg posterior splint.
  • Stirrup splint.
  • Posterior ankle splint.
16 Jun 2021

Can I take my splint off to sleep? ›

Do not take your splint or cast off unless instructed to do so by your therapist. There are some basic principles of sleep hygiene that can be useful to try to improve your quality of sleep: Try to avoid screens one hour before bedtime.

What type of arthritis affects the fingers? ›

Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are the two types of arthritis that most commonly affect the finger joints.

What causes arthritis in fingers to flare up? ›

The most common triggers of an OA flare are overdoing an activity or trauma to the joint. Other triggers can include bone spurs, stress, repetitive motions, cold weather, a change in barometric pressure, an infection or weight gain.

What triggers arthritis in fingers? ›

Causes and risk factors

Injury: Repetitive activities and acute injuries can cause joint damage and lead to arthritis. Smoking: People who smoke have a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Infection: Certain infections may cause joint damage and lead to arthritis.

What kind of arthritis causes bumps on fingers? ›

If you have Heberden's nodes, which are a sign of advanced osteoarthritis, you may have symptoms such as: Pain, swelling and stiffness. Bumps at the ends of your fingers.

Can arthritis bumps on fingers be removed? ›

In rare cases, your doctor might suggest surgery to remove the nodes, or replace or fuse one of the joints in your fingers. Other than that, they will likely treat the osteoarthritis that is the root cause of your Heberden's nodes.

What is the best treatment for osteoarthritis of the hands? ›

Hand Osteoarthritis Treatment
  • Painkiller pills. Acetaminophen and NSAIDs like ibuprofen can ease pain.
  • Immobilizing devices. A splint, brace, or sleeve can hold your hand in a stable position to lessen pain.
  • Hand therapy. ...
  • Cortisone shots.
26 Apr 2022

What are the 4 stages of osteoarthritis in the hands? ›

Stage 1 (early or doubtful) Stage 2 (mild or minimal) Stage 3 (moderate) Stage 4 (severe)

How tight should splints be? ›

THE FIT SHOULD BE SNUG, BUT NOT TIGHT

However, it should not be so tight that your extremity below the cast or splint is turning blue, purple, feels numb or tingly or cold to the touch. Conversely, the fit should not be loose enough to allow your limb to be moving or sliding inside of the cast or splint.

How does a finger splint work? ›

Orthotics such as finger splints can protect joints by immobilizing them, reducing pain and swelling while helping acute injuries heal. They can also prevent injuries and facilitate proper joint function.

How do you bend your finger after splinting? ›

When your splint is removed, your finger must remain straight and CANNOT bend! You can do this by leaning it on the edge of a table or flat surface (pictured below right). If your finger accidentally bends, all the healing will be undone and splinting will have to recommence from week one.

What is it called when your finger won't straighten? ›

Overview. Trigger finger is a condition in which one of your fingers gets stuck in a bent position. Your finger may bend or straighten with a snap — like a trigger being pulled and released. Trigger finger is also known as stenosing tenosynovitis (stuh-NO-sing ten-o-sin-o-VIE-tis).

How do you clean a finger splint? ›

How to Wash a Finger Splint - YouTube

Why do my fingers bend sideways? ›

Clinodactyly is typically caused by the growth of an abnormally shaped bone in your child's finger, which causes the finger to curve to the side. It may also be due to an irregular growth plate in one of the bones of your child's finger.

How can I stop arthritis getting worse in my hands? ›

A complete treatment plan for arthritis of the hand includes these additional approaches:
  1. Exercises — strengthening and stretching — to reduce symptoms and improve function. ...
  2. Hot and cold packs. ...
  3. Rest. ...
  4. Healthy eating and managing diabetes and cholesterol.
  5. Weight loss if you're overweight.
  6. Smoking cessation.
6 Jul 2021

How can I tell if I have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Osteoarthritis tends to develop gradually over several years, as the joint cartilage wears away. Eventually the bones of your joints rub against each other. In contrast, the pain and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis can develop and worsen over several weeks or a few months.

What exercises can I do to get rid of arthritis in my fingers? ›

Hold your hand out with fingers straight, palm down. Slowly bend your hand into a loose fist (don't squeeze), with your thumb on the outside. Re-open your hand, stretching your fingers straight. Repeat 10 times; switch hands.

Should I wear my finger splint to bed? ›

Treating mallet finger

The splint is taped on and must be worn day and night for 6 to 8 weeks to allow the 2 ends of the torn tendon to stay together and heal.

How long should you wear a finger splint? ›

You may need to wear a splint for different lengths of time. If your tendon is only stretched, not torn, it should heal in 4 to 6 weeks if you wear a splint all the time. If your tendon is torn or pulled off the bone, it should heal in 6 to 8 weeks of wearing a splint all the time.

How does a finger splint work? ›

Orthotics such as finger splints can protect joints by immobilizing them, reducing pain and swelling while helping acute injuries heal. They can also prevent injuries and facilitate proper joint function.

Can I take my splint off to sleep? ›

Do not take your splint or cast off unless instructed to do so by your therapist. There are some basic principles of sleep hygiene that can be useful to try to improve your quality of sleep: Try to avoid screens one hour before bedtime.

How many hours a day should I wear a splint? ›

Your splint is to be worn for periods of rest or when doing activities to offer you support at the wrist. Do not wear the splint for longer than two hours without removing it to move your wrist. It is important you do not wear the splint too much otherwise your wrist may become stiff and weak.

What are the 4 types of splints? ›

Splint Types
  • Long leg posterior splint.
  • Stirrup splint.
  • Posterior ankle splint.
16 Jun 2021

Can you wear a finger splint in the shower? ›

Bathing with a Cast or Splint

A splint can be removed before your child's shower or bath. Skin must be completely dry before the splint is put back on. If the cast IS waterproof, it is OK for your child to shower or bathe with the cast uncovered. Afterward, use a hair dryer on a cool setting to dry the skin inside.

How tight should splints be? ›

THE FIT SHOULD BE SNUG, BUT NOT TIGHT

However, it should not be so tight that your extremity below the cast or splint is turning blue, purple, feels numb or tingly or cold to the touch. Conversely, the fit should not be loose enough to allow your limb to be moving or sliding inside of the cast or splint.

How do you bend your finger after splinting? ›

When your splint is removed, your finger must remain straight and CANNOT bend! You can do this by leaning it on the edge of a table or flat surface (pictured below right). If your finger accidentally bends, all the healing will be undone and splinting will have to recommence from week one.

What is it called when your finger won't straighten? ›

Overview. Trigger finger is a condition in which one of your fingers gets stuck in a bent position. Your finger may bend or straighten with a snap — like a trigger being pulled and released. Trigger finger is also known as stenosing tenosynovitis (stuh-NO-sing ten-o-sin-o-VIE-tis).

What type of arthritis affects the fingers? ›

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can affect any joint in your body, including those in your hands and fingers. You may have: Hand pain, finger pain, swelling, and stiffness. Hand joints and finger joints that are warm and tender to the touch.

Should I wear a trigger finger splint all day? ›

Many people experience the worst symptoms of trigger finger in the morning when the finger is especially stiff. To alleviate this discomfort, your doctor may recommend using a splint at night so the finger is rested and mobile by the morning.

What causes osteoarthritis in fingers? ›

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones in your joints gradually deteriorates. Cartilage is a firm, slippery tissue that enables nearly frictionless joint motion. Eventually, if the cartilage wears down completely, bone will rub on bone.

How do you shower with a splint? ›

How to Shower with a Cast or Splint - YouTube

Can you drive with a hand splint? ›

An injury, especially one treated with a splint or plaster can reduce your range of motion. You should assess your own ability to move before driving a vehicle. Having a limb injury and/or a splint or plaster may invalidate your motor insurance. It is advised that you should discuss your injury with your provider.

How often should I wear my splint? ›

You need to wear your splint all the time, day and night. You also need to cover your splint with a plastic bag when you take a bath or shower. Keep wearing your splint until your doctor or therapist tells you that you no longer need to wear it. Your splint should be cleaned every day.

Videos

1. What's Wrong With My Hands?! | All About Ring Splints for EDS
(Robin Hahn)
2. Splints Demonstration and Explanation | Hand Osteoarthritis
(EULAR)
3. DIY Ring Splints
(Abby Sams)
4. MUST KNOW Tips for Hand & Thumb Arthritis Relief with an Occupational Therapist
(Dr. Alyssa Kuhn, Arthritis Adventure)
5. ♡ MY NEW FINGER SPLINTS CAME!!! | Amy's Life ♡
(Amy's Life)
6. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Silver Ring Splints
(Cheyenne Love)

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