Is a Splint as Good as a Cast? Everything You Need to Know

Female patient wearing an arm splint for wrist sprain
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If you have ever broken a bone, you know that one of the first things your doctor will do is put a splint on it. But what are splints for? How long should you keep a splint on? And are splints as good as casts? These are all valid questions that we will answer in this blog post. You'll also learn about the next generation of arm splint alternatives that promise to provide a more comfortable and effective option for immobilization. 

What Are Arm Splints?

A splint, also known as a "half cast," is a medical device used to support and immobilize broken bones or injured joints. It consists of a hard outer shell that covers only part of the affected area and is held in place by an elastic bandage or other material. They can be bought over the counter or custom-made by a medical professional.

What Does an Arm Splint Do?

Splinting is a medical treatment involving the use of a splint to immobilize broken bones or joints, support weak or deformed limbs, or protect injured body parts from further damage. It is often used in conjunction with other forms of treatment, such as casts, bracing, and surgery. Splinting is an effective way to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation while the body heals itself. 

What Injuries Are Arm Splints Used For? 

Male patient with wrist pain
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Arm splints are commonly used to immobilize and support the forearm, wrist, and hand following an injury or surgery. By ensuring that the hand and wrist are positioned correctly, a splint can help to protect the joint from further irritation or injury. Additionally, splints can help to reduce swelling and pain by immobilizing the joint while minimizing discomfort for the patient.

Arm splints are commonly used to treat a variety of injuries, including:

  • Arthritis: splints can help to take the pressure off of an affected joint, reducing pain and inflammation. 
  • Broken bones: splints can be used to stabilize a broken bone while it heals.
  • Dislocated joints: splints can help to keep a dislocated joint in place until it can be properly treated.
  • Sprains and strains: splints can help to immobilize a joint that has been sprained or strained, allowing the tissue to heal.
  • Tendonitis: splints work by immobilizing the joints and muscles around the tendon, giving it a chance to heal.

In some cases, splints may also be used to prevent an injury from occurring. For example, some people wear wrist splints to stabilize the joint and avoid strain when they are engaged in activities that put them at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. While arm splints are typically only worn for a short period of time, they can provide significant relief from pain and help promote healing.

Types of Arm Splints

Long Arm Splint: A long arm splint is an orthopedic device that is used to support and immobilize the elbow, forearm, and hand. It is typically made of plaster or fiberglass and is held in place with straps or Velcro. Long arm splints are often used after a fracture or surgery of the arm. They can also be used to treat elbow injuries, tendonitis, or ulnar nerve entrapment

Short Arm Splint: Short arm splints are devices that are used to immobilize the forearm and hand. They are usually made of plaster or fiberglass and extend from the wrist to just before the elbow. Short arm splints are typically used for injuries to the forearm, such as fractures or sprains. They may also be used for conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis.

Splint vs Cast: Which is Better?

Male nurse applying arm splint to patient
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Splints and casts are commonly used to support bones and joints while they heal from an injury. The immobilization provided by a splint or cast can help to reduce pain, swelling, and muscle spasms. In addition, it can promote healing by preventing the injured area from moving too much. 

While splints and casts are often used for similar purposes, there are some key differences between the two. A splint is a device that is used to keep a broken bone from moving, while a cast is a device that is used to keep a broken bone from moving and to protect it from further injury. 

Splints 

In many cases, a splint is applied to an injury first. As swelling subsides, a full cast may replace the splint. Splints are usually made of softer materials like cloth or foam, and they can be removed and reapplied as needed. This can be a big advantage when it comes to checking for swelling or other changes in the injured area. In addition, splints are generally more comfortable than casts, and they allow for more movement of the injured limb. However, these advantages are offset by a number of disadvantages. First, splints are typically made from weaker materials than casts, which makes them less durable and provide less protection from further injury. For this reason, splints are usually only used for minor injuries. 

Casts 

When it comes to treating broken bones, casts are often the gold standard. That's because casts are typically made from stronger materials than splints, making them more durable and less likely to break or come loose. Plus, because they completely encase the injured area, casts also provide better protection from further injury. As a result, when it comes to serious fractures, orthopedic casts are usually the best option.

The type of splint or cast that is used will depend on the location and severity of the injury. Each type of splint or cast has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to consult with a medical professional to determine which is best for your particular injury.

How Long Should You Wear a Splint? 

Man wearing arm splint for broken wrist
Sebastian - stock.adobe

The length of time you need to wear a splint depends on the reason you're wearing it and the severity of your injury. A splint is often used to immobilize a joint or bone so it can heal properly. For example, you may need to wear a splint for several weeks after spraining your wrist. In other cases, a splint may be worn for a shorter period of time, such as when recovering from carpal tunnel pain. The bottom line is that you should wear a splint for as long as

your doctor recommends. Once your injury has healed, you can slowly start to reduce the amount of time you're wearing the splint until you no longer need it.

Looking for a Splint Made for the 21st Century? 

Cast21 is a medical device company that provides next-generation splint and cast solutions for those in need of support for broken bones and beyond. Cast21 has designed an innovative alternative to traditional arm splints that are more comfortable and breathable than traditional immobilization methods. But what truly sets Cast21 apart is its use of cutting-edge materials. By harnessing the power of 21st-century technology, Cast21 is able to provide support and protection that is unrivaled by anything else on the market. 

In addition, Cast21's open lattice design ensures a snug and secure fit that won't rub or chafe. And because their orthopedic devices are made from medical-grade waterproof material, patients can bathe and swim without worry. As a result, patients can wear their Cast21 product with confidence, knowing they are getting the best possible care. So why wait? Get the splint solution of the future today! Contact us to find out how you can get a Cast21 splint alternative and begin to heal in comfort.