Stabilize Hand and Finger Joint Issues with Splint Jewelry

Relieve pain while making a unique fashion statement along the way

Lacking mobility and flexibility in your fingers, hand, and wrist can be a detriment to daily activities. Luckily, splint therapy has revolutionized the way in which arthritis patients can actively achieve a comfortable fit while relieving pain and allowing your hands to return to intensive tasks.

Patients who suffer from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a disease categorized in part by joint hypermobility (stretching further than normal), can benefit greatly from splint therapy. It comes as no surprise then that splints in the form of jewelry make for fashionable accessories, while also being a dependable tool to help keep joints stabilized and minimize movement when needed.

The Silver Ring Splint Company (Charlottesville, VA) is just one company that specializes in splint jewelry. Founded in 1985 by occupational therapist Cynthia Garris, she a sufferer of rheumatoid arthritis since being diagnosed in 1974, took to the value and long-term benefits of splints. The company has since set out to create more effective and “trendy” splints that allow people to enjoy the positive look and feel of their silver ring jewelry.

“These pieces look and wear like jewelry but function like medical devices,” said Tiziano Marovino, DPT, MPH, DAIPM, senior vice president of Health Strategy and Innovation at the Biogenesis Group in Ypsilanti, MI, and PPM Editorial Board member. “These devices are smartly engineered to provide a very specific function, while at the same time looking very stylish. The added focus on form with these devices should serve to remove any perceived stigma attached to wearing a more traditional medical splint.”

Note that these splints require a referral from your occupational, physical, or certified hand therapist in order to obtain them. If you don’t have a dedicated therapist, ask your primary doctor or find one through the Hand Therapy Certification Commission, or the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, as these splints could be covered by your insurance plan.

Finger Splint TherapyJewelry splints make for a valuable, and fashionable, tool to secure common finger joint issues associated with arthritis. (Source: 123RF)

Below are some common finger joint and pain issues, and related Silver Ring Splint Company products that can help stabilize them:

Hyperextension

Hyperextension means a finger joint is beyond its normal position, resulting in pain, decreased pinching power, and not being able to bend the finger. This hyperextension can become progressively worse over time until there is a complete loss of function as the joint becomes “stuck” in position.

Try these: swan neck splints ($89); boutonniere splints ($99); or EDS splints ($155)

Lateral Instability

A finger that deviates sideways across an adjacent finger can result in pain, disrupting normal motions, and leading to further complications when pressure is applied. Lateral instability is usually the result of an injury, or ligament issues stemming from joint replacement surgery or worsening arthritic disease.

Try these: lateral support splint ($118); boutonniere splints ($99); boutonniere lateral support splint ($130); dorsal extension splint ($143); distal extension splint (custom order)

Flexion (Bending)

Flexion is the inability to actively straighten a finger joint, which can lead to an inability to open the hand, preventing a firm grasp on objects, putting the hand in a pocket, or sliding on a glove or mitten. This condition is usually a result of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.

Try these: boutonniere splints ($99); realignment splints ($99); dorsal extension splint ($143)

Metacarpal Phalangeal Deviation

Joint instability around the knuckle makes fingers stray or cross over/under each other, making it difficult to hold objects or type. This deviation may cause the finger to catch onto things, causing further pain. Splinting therapy forces the two fingers to hold, or “buddy,” together creating better alignment and function.

Try these: buddy rings ($116); 2.5-inch buddy splint ($146); pulley rings ($58)

Thumb Metacarpal Phalangeal Joint or Interphalangeal Joint Problems

Hyperextension of the middle (metacarpal-phalangeal joint, or MCP) or end (interphalangeal joint, or IP) of the thumb may result in pain, decreased power when pinching and difficulty picking up or manipulating objects. Without stabilizing the hyperextension, the deformity can become progressively worse, “stick,” and result in a loss of function.

Try these: MCP: thumb MCP splint with PVX ($193); stable thumb splint with PVX ($247).IP: swan neck splints (89$); boutonniere splints ($99); spiral splint ($116), lateral support splint ($118)

Triggering

A common problem seen with rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation or “thickening” of the flexor tendon may cause irregular movement of a finger, making it lock in a bent position and result in a painful snap when the finger is straightened. Repeated action on this finger can aggravate triggering and start to limit function. Splint therapy can be useful to limit bending and allow the inflammation to diminish.

Try these: trigger splint ($137); boutonniere splints ($99); spiral splint ($116)

 

If you’re ready to get started, talk to your doctors about insurance coverage and whether or not these splints may be right for you. A doctor will be able to evaluate your hand for disease progression and function, but also determine the specific type and degree of deformity present for choosing which ring stabilizer may be a good fit. Your doctor can also help you with a measuring kit to get the most accurate rings in your size.

“I really see this as not just redesigning a splint to look fashionable, but rather the beginning of something larger perhaps,” added Dr. Marovino. “How we think about healing and recovery is important…redesigning a medical device to make it fun, people will likely be more engaged and compliant in wearing them.”

You should communicate your issues with your doctor for he or she to make the appropriate choice for your splint. For example, how much pain are you in? Have you seen signs of weakness or a loss of function in your fingers and hands (ie, being unable to pick up objects)? Discussing your symptoms in this way will lead to finding the perfect ring!

Updated on: 11/16/18
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