Each Wednesday, we feature our Splint in the Spotlight. With these articles, we offer you inspiration and
ideas for your future splinting projects and for the wide variety of pathologies you encounter with your clients.
Today, we focus on the Circumferential Elbow Splint for Elbow Positioning.
Patients with a variety of pathologies or trauma affecting the elbow joint, forearm bones, upper arm musculature and peripheral nerves often need to have their elbow immobilized during the healing process. Elbow splints can be positioned anteriorly on the arm or posteriorly behind the arm. Often, posterior elbow splints are used after trauma or surgery to protect and rest the elbow joint and surrounding soft tissues. They may also be used to restrict forearm motion. Anterior elbow splints are commonly fabricated for patients with cubital tunnel syndrome, also known as ulnar nerve entrapment. This condition occurs when the ulnar nerve in the arm becomes compressed or irritated at the elbow. Symptoms of cubital nerve compression include pain and paresthesia that run from the elbow to the fingers, typically the ulnar digits. Anterior elbow splints may also be utilized to statically position the contracted elbow at maximum extension and facilitate lengthening of tight soft tissues.
- Goals of orthotic fabrication include:
- Protection of healing structures;
- Symptomatic and/ or pain relief;
- Prevention of further ulnar nerve compression;
- Restriction of motion;
- Elongation of contracted tissues.
- In practice, the patient may benefit from:
- Night splinting to prevent compression of the ulnar nerve during elbow flexion;
- Night splinting for elongation of tight contracted soft tissues;
- Day time splint as needed for protection and relief of symptoms and pain.
Patient education is paramount to instruct patients on the proper wearing schedules that offer them the greatest benefit.
*Careful consideration should be given to the splint strapping. The strapping must not cause pressure areas or decrease the patient’s level of functioning. Patients should be able to put on and take off their splints unaided.
Orfit NS (3.2mm or 1/8”, mini perfo) or Aquafit NS (Stiff, 3.2mm or 1/8”, macro perfo) are both excellent low temperature thermoplastic materials for fabrication of anterior and posterior elbow orthoses. Continue reading