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How to Tape or Properly Splint a Sprained Thumb

by Patty Weasler, RN July 25, 2020 0 Comments

Fasten thumb splint

Don’t wait too long after your injury to learn how to tape a sprained thumb. Whether taping or splinting, both techniques will support the thumb joint and work to prevent another injury. It’s especially important to splint or tape after a thumb sprain if you plan to get back into activities or sports that involve your hand. Here we will cover the benefits of taping and splinting and how to perform each one correctly.

Benefits of Taping

If you’ve suffered a sports injury to your ulnar collateral ligament, taping could help. The benefits of taping your thumb and hand are all based on preventing an additional injury and supporting your hand and thumb. Check out the specific benefits listed below.

  • Supports the thumb joint
  • Minimizes movement
  • Prevents hyperextension
  • Increases your awareness of the injury
  • Provides compression
  • Reduces thumb pain

Athletic Tape vs Kinesiology Tape for Thumb

Athletic tape and kinesiology tape are two very different types of support tape used for injuries. Athletic tape’s benefits make it a better choice during the initial recovery phase. Whereas kinesiology tape is better for long-term recovery and protection. Neither one is an overall better tape than the other, each has its specific advantages.

Athletic Tape

  • Stiffer
  • Acts more as a brace
  • Restricts range of motion
  • Supports the joint
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to find                                                                         

Kinesiology Tape

  • Improves self-awareness
  • Changes how your body feels pain
  • Reduces the load on the joint during movement
  • Boosts circulation
  • Can remain on the skin for multiple days 

Taping Techniques

Before you begin taping your thumb make sure you have tape and scissors. Clean your hand and thumb to remove oils and any residue. This will help the adhesive on the tape adhere to your skin. Thumb injuries can be difficult to tape on your own. We recommend having someone help you until you get used to the process.

  • Athletic Tape

  1. Cut and place a piece of tape around your wrist to act as an anchor strip.
  2. Divide the tape into two strips, length-wise.
  3. On the back of the hand, put one strip of tape down on the anchor piece and wrap it between your thumb and index finger, with the end landing on the anchor on the inside of the wrist.
  4. Make a figure 8 with another piece of tape, wrapping from the anchor piece over your thumb and back down onto the anchor.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 two more times.
  6. Finish with a last piece of tape wrapped over the anchor to secure all the tape.
  • Kinesiology Tape

  1. Measure a piece of 1-inch wide tape from the thumb knuckle to just above the wrist.
  2. Cut the edges of the kinesiology tape so they are rounded.
  3. Position your thumb against your palm and push your hand toward your ulna bone.
  4. Place the tape over the knuckle of the thumb and up your arm.
  5. With a 2-inch wide kinesiology tape, place it perpendicularly over the wrist but do not wrap it completely around the wrist. 
  • Removal Tips

    When it’s time to take off the athletic or kinesiology tape you’ll want to do it carefully to avoid tearing your skin. Here are our best tips to protect your skin when removing the tape.

  • Rub baby oil onto the and around the tape. Let the oil sit for 20 minutes. Then gently pull the tape off.
  • Hop in the shower and lather up with soap and water. The tape should come off easily.
  • Always be sure to hold your skin down as you pull the tape off.
  • Pull in the direction of your hair, not against it.
  • Do not pull quickly or yank the tape off.

Benefits of Thumb Spica Splinting

If you have suffered a partially torn ligament, a thumb splint with a spica brace is what many doctors will recommend. The protection and support it provides will give you lasting benefits as your injury heals. It also offers a range of unique benefits.

  • Immobilizes the thumb
  • Allows the fingers to move freely
  • Stabilizes the thumb joint
  • Supports the thumb during activities
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Adjustable to any swelling within the hand or thumb

How to Prepare a Thumb Splint

Making a thumb splint with athletic tape is another way to support your thumb and help protect it during sports and activities. Follow our step-by-step instructions to splint your thumb at home.

  1. Start with wrapping a piece of athletic tape around your wrist.
  2. Make sure the tape is not too tight and does not restrict blood circulation.
  3. With the second piece of tape place one end on your inner wrist and wrap the tape up over your thumb and loop it back down to the back of your wrist.
  4. Repeat step number 3 up to four times to secure your thumb.
  5. Wrap a piece of tape around the distal end of the affected thumb.
  6. Continue with this piece of tape and secure it down on the back of your hand in between your thumb and index finger.

Try these other treatment options for a sprained thumb.

Choosing Tape or Splint

A thumb sprain is a painful injury that can interfere with many of your daily activities. After your injury, seek medical advice from your doctor to make sure your method of immobilization is safe for your injury and that you don’t have a broken thumb; which needs an x-ray to confirm. If your diagnosis confirms a sprain then follow your doctor’s orders regarding splinting and taping.

Sources:

https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/sprained-thumb

https://www.sportsmd.com/sports-injuries/wrist-hand-injuries/sprained-thumb/

https://www.wikihow.com/Tape-a-Thumb

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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.



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