Key Points About Splints and Braces

  • A splint or a brace is used to treat conditions in the hand, wrist, knee, elbow, shoulder, or ankle.
  • Your doctor may recommend a splint or brace as a part of a treatment plan for arthritis, tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, strains or sprains, stress fractures, carpal tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel syndrome.
  • Splints are generally for short-term use. Using a splint brace for longer than indicated can lead to chronic pain, joint stiffness, or muscle weakness.
  • The time you will need to wear a brace or splint will depend upon the location and severity of your injury.

Braces and splints are useful to treat acute orthopedic injuries, chronic conditions, and prevent injury.

The goals of wearing a brace or splint include:

  • Improve physical function.
  • Slow disease progression.
  • Reduce pain.
  • Immobilize an unstable joint or fracture.
  • Reduce or eliminate the range of motion in one direction.
  • Modify range of motion in one or more directions.

Splints and braces are often used in combination with other treatments such as medication and physical therapy.

Candidates for Splints or Braces

Your doctor will evaluate your case to determine if you are a candidate for a splint or brace. 

Orthopedic conditions that may be treated with a splint or brace include:

  • Arthritis.
  • Tennis elbow.
  • Golfer's elbow.
  • Strains/sprains.
  • Stress fractures.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome.

Risks Associated with Splints or Braces

Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully when wearing a splint or brace. If worn improperly, complications can occur.

Complications associated with splints or braces include:

  • Slowed healing process if the brace is not worn as indicated. Many patients do not wear the orthoepic support brace or only wear it during periods of discomfort, which hinders the healing process.
  • Stiffness.
  • Reduced mobility.
  • Muscle weakness.

Preparation for Splints or Braces

Your care team will give you specific instructions on the type of splint or brace to wear. In some cases, you will need to be measured to customize the brace or splint for your injured body part.

What to Expect While Wearing a Splint or a Brace

Your doctor may take a series of imaging tests to determine the cause of your pain. Once the underlying condition is identified, your doctor may fit you with a splint or brace. 

Braces typically come in a variety of sizes and can be adjusted as the swelling goes down. Braces are used for longer-term treatments, so they provide support for your day to day activities.

If your doctor recommends a splint, your activities may be limited. You should not get the splint wet
Your doctor will generally recommend wearing a brace or splint as a part of a treatment plan that also includes anti-inflammatory medications, rest, and physical therapy.

Duration of Wearing Splints or Braces

Your doctor will instruct you on how long you will need to wear a splint or brace. The timeframe can range from a few days to a few weeks depending upon the location and severity of your condition. 

Make sure to go to your follow-up doctor appointments as scheduled. Your doctor will evaluate your case at each visit to determine if he or she needs to modify your schedule.