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Splinting Basics

Any suspected fracture (broken bone) or dislocation should be splinted, immobilized, or both. An effective splint helps to prevent further injury and to provide substantial pain relief.

Splints can be ready-made or can be made from basic materials. For example, a person could use branches, boards, layers of cardboard, or a foam sleeping pad. Wrapping materials for the splint can include bandannas, climbing webbing, torn shirts, pants, or other pieces of clothing. These materials should be wrapped completely around the splinted extremity to secure the splint but should not be so tight as to block circulation.

Unless the person who is injured is in a dangerous setting (for example, in the middle of a road or at the foot of a gully exposed to frequent ice or rock falls), all injuries should be splinted before the person is moved to minimize further injury.

Severely deformed fractured limbs should be straightened if sensation or pulses are impaired prior to splinting. The process of straightening should not worsen the injury.

A basic rule of splinting is that the joint above and below the broken bone should be immobilized to protect the fracture site. For example, if the lower leg is broken, the splint should immobilize both the ankle and the knee.

Pulses and sensation should be checked below the splint at least once per hour. If the person complains of tightness, tingling, or numbness, the wrapping material should be released completely, and the splint should be rewrapped more loosely.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2014
Medical Author:

Stress Fractures: Some Take Longer to Heal Than Others

Medical Author: Benjamin C. Wedro, MD, FAAEM
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

It takes a lot of effort to support 7 feet 6 inches and the two tons of force generated when NBA basketball star Yao Ming walks or jumps. The cushioning that absorbs the shock of his weight rests on two feet and their joints, ligaments, and muscles. The force of that weight during running can multiply a person's weight by more than12 times. Unfortunately for the Houston Rocket basketball player, his bones couldn't withstand the constant pounding and he developed a stress fracture of the navicular bone of his foot.

The navicular bone helps support the arch of the foot and is a bridge between the bones of the ankle and those of the toes. The bony arch is also supported by the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue that connects the heel to the front of the foot. The solid bones and the pliable ligaments flex the foot to disperse the forces generated with walking, running, and jumping. But if the force placed on the bone is greater than its ability to withstand it, small micro fractures can occur in the bones that can develop into a stress fracture.

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Splinting »

In general, splints are applied to decrease movement and provide support and comfort through stabilization of an injury.

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