What is the role of splinting in the treatment of trigger finger (TF)?

Updated: Apr 26, 2021
  • Author: Satishchandra Kale, MD, MBBS, MBA, MCh(Orth), FRCS(Edin), FRCS(Tr&Orth); Chief Editor: Harris Gellman, MD  more...
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Custom-made splinting of the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint is another conservative treatment, used in patients who do not wish to undergo a steroid injection or as an adjuvant to injection. Typically, a custom-made splint is used to hold the MCP joint of the involved finger at 10-15° of flexion, leaving the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) and distal interphalangeal (DIP) joints free. The average length of splinting is 6 weeks. In patients with symptoms longer than 6 months, splinting as a sole treatment strategy does not seem to eliminate the triggering events. [21]

Although traditionally splinting has not been thought to be an effective treatment for TF, one study of thermoplastic splinting of MCP joint flexion showed improvement in stenosing tenosynovitis, the numeric pain rating scale, and the number of triggering events and also demonstrated an overall perceived participant improvement in symptoms. [68] Another study determined that 87% of patients who wore custom-made, thermoplastic orthoses for 8-10 weeks did not require an injection or surgical intervention in the 1-year follow-up after institution of the orthoses. [69]

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