If you injure the ligaments and tendons in your thumb it may be strained or sprained and need splinting to reduce pain, immobilize the joints and protect the thumb while it heals. You can purchase thumb splints and supports in pharmacies or use a rigid object such as a tongue depressor and medical tape to wrap the thumb and hand, giving it support. Making a thumb splint is fairly straightforward and can be achieved in a few easy steps.
Decide whether you will purchase a thumb splint or make your own. If buying one, choose a splint that is padded and offers support for the thumb and surrounding hand. If you make your own out of a tongue depressor, make sure it is clean and has no cracks or splinters that might further hurt the thumb.
Remove all jewelry from the injured hand to protect against swelling. Placing a splint over a ring on the thumb may cause undue pain and discomfort.
Lay the hand on a table resting on the outer side of the hand, with the thumb on the top of the hand. Keep the thumb straight.
Place the tongue depressor against the palm side of the thumb, being sure it is long enough to reach from the tip of the thumb to the wrist just below the lower thumb joint. This will immobilize the thumb, allowing it to heal. If you use a prepared splint that is padded put the padding against the skin of the thumb on the palm side.
Wrap adhesive or other medical tape around the tip of the thumb, securing the splint, and then again another piece around the first joint and the tongue depressor. This will secure the splint to your hand. Place a third piece of tape around the base of the thumb by the wrist to ensure that end is secure. You should not be able to bend the thumb at all.
Secure the splint with gauze bandage on a roll. Use a 2-inch-wide roll and wrap around the thumb, splint and the wrist several times until the thumb is fully covered and secure from top to bottom.
Follow the directions on the package if you buy a thumb or hand splint in lieu of using a tongue depressor.
- Merck Manual, 15th edition, 1987
- Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, Edited by Clayton L. Thomas, M.D., M.P.H., 1989