A thumb splint is used temporarily to immobilize the thumb in emergency or first aid cases. This is in contrary of a more permanent thumb cast. Thumb spica splint is used for the same temporary purpose, but usually for more severe thumb injuries.
What is spica in thumb spica? The term ‘spica’ (pronouced: spike-car) refers to a type of bandage or cast that wraps the affected body part in overlapping opposite spirals. Of course, thumb spica today is not really a bandage or cast anymore. However, in a thumb spica splint, you can always expect similar type of fabric-material straps or velcro that wraps your thumb.
There are also wrist braces that feature a thumb spica splint. This means that the wrist brace also has support or opening to hold the thumb. In fact, a thumb spica splint today is more commonly available as part of a wrist brace.
Thumb Spica Splint Uses
Thumb spica splint is used for conditions that involved bone fractures, dislocated joints or injured muscles that required total immobilization of the thumb. For example, it is used in thumb injuries below :
- Broken thumb
- Thumb ligament injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Gamekeeper’s thumb
Non-cast type of thumb spica splints are more commonly used in emergency cases as they are easier to put on and remove. Cast type splints are used in condition when the thumb requires longer healing time and it is necessary to firmly brace the thumb to let it rest.
Thumb support usually refers to a type of smaller brace that only covers the thumb or finger. However, the medical industry seems to refer to thumb support and thumb brace interchangeably.
Thumb support is used to fix the position and support only the thumb or one finger. It is applied as a treatment for injury at a small part of the thumb or finger. Therefore, the thumb support only covers the affected area, leaving other fingers and the rest of the palm free to movement.
Nevertheless, as the term is used to mean both thumb support and thumb brace, you can safely ignore the differences. Just look at the features of the thumb support to find the right one for your condition.
What is a thumb brace, really? What do you use it for? And how to do you use it?
The first two questions are easy. Thumb brace is basically a device used to limit the movement of your thumb (just like an arm brace or leg brace). It is an orthopedics treatment for thumb injuries that require long period of immobility for recovery. In such cases, the thumb (which normally can move 360 degrees) must be braced to prevent further strain and promote recovery.
How you use a thumb brace depends on several factors, such as how long you need to wear it, the level of rigidness (or flexbility) required and the amount of support required. Most commonly, a thumb brace wraps around your thumb and covers your wrist for support. There are also some ‘mini’ thumb braces that cover only the lower part of your palm for support, in order to provide more movement flexibility. Most of the time, a thumb brace can be put on like a glove, sometimes with additional straps or buttons for better grip.
Your doctor may put on a custom thumb brace which is basically made of plaster into a cast. This type of thumb brace is really an orthopedic cast, just like neck or leg casts. Since it is a one-time use only brace, you will usually break or tear off the thumb brace after recovery.