Friday, January 23, 2009

Ring splints

I don't know if the use of ring splints in EDS is widespread enough to be called universal, but it is pretty darn common. I've used both Silver Ring Splints (SRS) and Oval 8s, both of which have plusses and minuses. I first got SRS, oh, six or seven years ago, though I needed them earlier. Completely losing the ability to maintain a grip was a motivating factor in getting them. I got eight fingers splinted at the time (three fingers on each hand, plus thumbs), leaving out my pinkies in order to reduce my out of pocket expenses. Since then, I've managed to lose splints, break splints, and replace some splints. Pinkies are still waiting for the love.

Perhaps you'd like to see pictures? OK, here's pictures!

This is a front view of my hands with silver ring splints, including thumb splints. I have the thumb splints tied on with elastic band because (1) I find having anything more substantial right at the base of my palm drives me nuts and (2) I tend to snag bracelets. I used to have a splint for my right middle finger, but it is broken.

Here you can plainly see that I don't have my pinkies splinted. You also get to see my lovely saggy baggy skin. It's always been that way, sort of flopped on top of bones and veins. My hands naturally curl up--tighter than this--and the splints help keep me from contracting them quite so much. 

Both hands, with fingers forced straight. Notice that the unsplinted fingers are taking creative paths. You can also see that my thumbs do their best, even splinted, to disappear into my palm. The splints on them guide them into the correct place, but don't put a lot of pressure on them. In fact, over time, all of the splints become deformed from my fingers' tendency to veer off. This is why Carapace prefers 3 Point Products Oval 8 splints. Also, you can buy Oval 8s directly, if you know your knuckle size, but SRS need to be sized by professionals. Because I have so much extra skin on my fingers, and the joints were quite swollen, the hand therapist had quite a challenge getting the right size, so if you are like me, don't expect that you will get the right size the first time with SRS.

Finally, here is a palm-side view of my left hand. You can see that I have a mixture of extra-strength and regular-strength splints.  I would suggest to anyone to get the stronger ones because  of the tendency of the splints to deform after a while.

Please take a moment to speak up for Minna. Her life depends on all of us.


One Sick Mother said...

Thanks for this explanation. I think it is helpul to EDSers and non-EDSers alike.

Are the splints comfortable? Because they don't look it.

yanub said...

The ring splints are very comfortable. Just be careful slapping mosquitoes.

D Phoenix said...

Thanks for writing about this and posting the photos. I have never seen ring splints before. I think it's so amazing to be able to learn about other people's experiences with chronic pain/disability.

I don't know how you feel about wearing them out and about, but I think that they are very beautiful. What do you think about how they look or does it matter?

yanub said...

Donimo, I get asked about them all the time, mostly by women who think they are jewelry and want some. People in medical fields pretty quickly figure out what they are, but ask anyways, since they usually haven't seen any before and want to know if they are useful. And once, I met someone who thought I was a satanist or something because of all the silver on my fingers. If there is anyone else who has ever had such stupid ideas as that woman, they've at least been tactful enough to keep their fool mouths shut. Frankly, I don't know why more medical appliances don't look like jewelry, or at least like something fun to wear. I'd rather be answering people who ask me where I got my jewelry than people asking me when I will get better. And ask they will, since I can't exactly hide what I must wear. Now, if I could get a decent looking cervical collar....

Evil Transport Lady said...

Maybe you could invent splints that look more like jewelry. Like how medical ID bracelets look these day:) And some bling to those babies;)

Queen Slug said...

Those are really pretty. Thanks for the pics, it was helpful to see fingers right next to each other with 1 splinted & another not. I also didn't know they keep your hands from curling so tight when relaxed. My hands are always some level of clenched.

I actually get a bit emotional when I see EDS hands. I can see my hands in them & I don't feel like I am just an all alone freak, I feel a bit like when you look at family you've never met & see your smile. Ok, I'm just rambling now so I'll stop.

D Phoenix said...

I'm glad you like how they look. I agree with you that medical appliances ought to be beautiful as well as functional. I've seen some real improvements in the look and function of walkers: I don't use one, but my dad does and he loves his hunter green walker. He also has a cool looking bright red scooter. I've heard that in Holland (or somewhere near there - my memory sucks) that hearing aids are worn outside the ear and they are bright colours and people pick their styles like they would pick glasses. I think that's so cool: no hiding it and good design! With so many Baby Boomers heading toward their grey and wobbly years, maybe there will be more emphasis on cool looking devices.

Lisa Moon said...

I saw these ring splints on a young woman with an arthritic condition (as I recall, but am not sure) about 4 or 5 years ago and I was amazed - they looked so neat and pretty, I also thought they were jewelry!

It's wonderful to hear they are also helpful!

Donimo, I got a walker last month and when I was shopping for one, there were a few 'cooler', more modern, dare I say, artistic looking models. Unfortunately, I got one of the pretty standard models because of the featurs I required most: the ability to lift the seat up for preventing whacking my leg on it!

The other ones folded side to side and had their brake cables hidden within the frame. Also, they came in quite the range of funky, fun colours!

Thanks for sharing, Yanub. It's a good reminder of both what other people are living with as well as something that might help others your readers know...

In fact, I've always wondered about my fingers. See, if I hold my fingers extended, what should be straight(ish) actually bend upward (curling back, away from my palm) at quite the angle; hyperextension?

I've always wondered about this and if it was something that would bother me later in life... and now, living with CRPS/RSD, which is known to travel to other limbs/throughout the body, I do worry about any potentially vulnerable areas.

Do you know if it's problematic to have fingers which bend *up* like that?!

And thank you for posting about Minna; lately I've been increasingly ashamed of my country, when I used to be quite proud... what is becoming of us? :(

Anonymous said...

Those are cool! How did you get them? My hands get tired whenever I have to do much writing because of the finger hyperflexion.


yanub said...

ETL and Donimo, I saw a leather arm sling on a TV show, being used to demonstrate that the character in question has power (no pharmacy sling for him!), and thought, why can't those of us who need to have arm slings available all the time have such nice ones? Seriously, some sort of custom made upscale medical goods shop would be so cool. Though you can get anything made nice if you think creatively about who to ask, is there really any reason that so much has to be ugly to start with?

Queen Slug, I used to sleep with my hands flat underneath me, because if I didn't, my hands and arms contracted so much during the night that they hurt in the morning. And casual pictures of me usually show me with my arms pulled up and hands curled in, which is never how I think I look, but there it is, so it must be. It's kind of reassuring to know I'm not the only one. We can be weird together.

Lisa Moon, RSD is pretty common in people with hypermobility. Not that doctors are generally aware of it. But if they'd haunt patient forums, they'd learn fast. Anyways, you might want to look into where you are on the Brighton scale ( and then talk to your doctor if you think it is something worth mentioning.

Gotta say, until I e-met Beth, I had no idea Canada has such horrible protections in place against institutional abuse. I think it shows how easy it is for a population to become complacent, that such things could go on without drawing much if any public condemnation.

Andrea, I got mine by telling my doctor that I was tired of not being able to turn door knobs or hold onto my steering wheel, and that I wanted a referral to a hand therapist for ring splints. I had information already printed out so he could see what I was talking about. If you call the Silver Ring Splint Company, they can tell you what therapists they've worked with, so your doctor has a better shot of sending you to someone with experience and on your health plan.

Lisa Moon said...

Say, thanks for the info; very interesting.
I think with happenings/lack thereof in our healthcare that complacency has been a huge part of it; until one needs it, who knows or cares what is or is not available? And if there's cutbacks in the budgets provincially or federally, do they matter to us at the time, or will we only speak up when suddenly we are one of the affected?
We are suffering the effects of privitization ("It will help our healthcare system!") throwing us about without any care but for the numbers in The Books...