Injury to a joint can be painful. To determine whether joint pain is being caused by a sprain or fracture and, if so, the nature and extent of the injury, a physical examination is performed, and X-rays or other diagnostic images are taken. If a sprain or fracture is found, the joint may be splinted to keep it immobilized and help it to heal properly. Splints are also applied following certain types of surgery.
Reasons for Splint Placement
An orthopedic injury involving the joints is often treated by immobilizing the affected area with a splint, which is usually made of fiberglass or plaster.
A sprain is a common injury that involves a stretching or tearing of ligaments, the structures that connect bones together within a joint. Based on its severity, a sprain is graded on a scale of one to three. Grade 1 sprains are mild and involve only a stretching of the ligaments, whereas Grade 3 sprains involve a complete tear.
A fracture, which is a crack or break in a bone, may also be splinted. A fracture can range from a small crack to a complete breaking in two. A bone fracture causes pain, swelling and, sometimes, bruising of the affected area. Applied weight or pressure causes pain to become even more severe. Immobilization helps to both relieve pain and speed up recovery.
A splint holds the affected bone in proper position until the sprain or fracture is fully healed, which usually takes several weeks.