Splintin’ images
Sunday June 30th 2013, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Lupus

Someone recently asked me about my hand splints. I’ve mentioned them a few times but realized I’d never actually shown what they look like.

When my lupus was diagnosed I had severe arthritis in my hands–inflammation severe enough to worry about permanent damage as the swelling pushed the ligaments apart. And I could not take NSAIDs. I got sent to a physical therapist who specialized in hands.

Okay, hold your hand out, thumb up, pinky down: she taught me, never hold things in a way that will push your fingers towards your pinky finger in that position–always hold things with the flat of your palm from underneath. Think shopping bags, a pot filling up with water at the tap.

And she custom-made me my first set of these splints to wear at night to keep my fingers from curling up in my sleep. Heated the plastic, wrapped a sheet around each arm one at a time, measured, penciled, cut, folded back the edges so nothing would be sharp when it cooled and went firm again, then added the padded velcro.

They don’t go to the tips of my fingers because you want to be able to pull the bedding on and off or up and down or whatever, but by going to the middle joints and bending the palm parts slightly backwards, it positions the hands just so. Take old loose cotton socks and cut out the heels and toes to wear as liners.

I was eating with plastic utensils because I couldn’t bear the weight of metal ones for the pain. How I managed a two-year-old in diapers I’ll never know, but you do what you have to do.

She knew her job well and she gave me back the use of my hands, so much so that she gave me back my knitting.

And then her son took a job as a cop and she became a 911 dispatcher so she could always know how he was and I had to find me a new PT to make these. I’ve wished her and him well all these years, wherever they are now; she was the first person to tell me about the therapy pool that was open to patients only. That helped too.

The plastic ages over time and 23 years later, I’m on maybe my fifth pair. This set’s on its last legs–the plastic is beginning to shrink up around my arms a little and it could start to crack soon, time to make an appointment.

Best anti-inflammatory ever and you can’t beat it re side effects. Sometimes simplest is best.

(Meantime, the latest of Eric’s peregrine falcon photos here.)

6 Comments so far
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I wanna sing “We get by with a little help from our friends…..” There have been times I counted my splints among my best friends. After almost 30 years I still use the hand-sparing principles my o/t taught: always try to move the action up to the next larger joint closer to the body. I still open doors with my forearm, slide things on the counter rather than picking them up, use mugs with large handles I can slip my hand in, etc. Splints don’t help with the hand pain of knitting too long (2 hours at best). I’m grateful to be able to do that much!

Comment by carol 07.01.13 @ 6:30 am

after a bad experience with repetitive motion injury, I have braces that I can wear at night if I’ve over done — not nearly as custom as that, but they work for me — I image those custom ones are even better!

Comment by bev 07.01.13 @ 8:15 am

That’s going to help a lot of people, for sure.

Comment by LynnM 07.01.13 @ 10:30 am

Pretty neat! I can’t get into anything like that because I have no voluntary motion in that hand or arm. It’s a good thing that you can.

Comment by Donald Meyer 07.01.13 @ 11:37 am

Well, it’s a good thing, bad thing, isn’t it? Good that they help so much, bad that they get in the way and need replaced. I hated my wrist splints…so glad they are not needed at this time!

Comment by Ruth 07.01.13 @ 7:28 pm

They are beautiful!

Comment by twinsetellen 07.01.13 @ 9:27 pm

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