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  3. Diagnosis
  4. Indications
  5. Treatment

Authors of section


Matej Kastelec, Pavel Dráč

Executive Editor

Simon Lambert

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Nonoperative treatment

1. General considerations

Nonoperative treatment is based on immobilization of the DIP joint in extension, leaving the PIP joint free.

Nail bed injuries may need repair and reduction of the nail plate into the nail fold.

2. Splinting

The DIP should be splinted distally from the PIP joint.

Pitfall: Do not immobilize the PIP joint, as this may result in flexion contraction of the joint.
Immobilization of the DIP joint with a palmar splint

Dorsal splint vs palmar splint

Using a dorsal splint has the advantage of leaving the patient with the ability to pinch while the digit is immobilized.

However, proponents of palmar splinting argue that the palmar aspect is better cushioned than the dorsal and, thereby, can tolerate the splint better.

Contoured custom thermoplastic splint

The advantage of a custom thermoplastic splint is that it is adapted better to the shape of the finger and is easier to change.

Contoured custom thermoplastic splint to immobilize the DIP joint

3. Aftercare


Removal of the splint and skincare must be performed by the patient at weekly intervals.


Hand therapy is recommended to prevent soft-tissue atrophy and joint contracture (typically extension of MCP joint and flexion of PIP joint), which leads to a poor outcome, and subsequent treatment is difficult.

Functional exercises of the nonimmobilized joints should be started immediately to keep uninjured joints mobile.

Functional exercises to mobilize the MCP joints


X-ray controls have to be performed immediately after the splint has been applied.

Follow-up x-rays with the splint should be taken after 1 week and possibly after 2 weeks. Immobilization is continued until about 4 weeks after the injury. At that time, an x-ray without the splint is taken to confirm healing. Splinting can then usually be discontinued, and active mobilization is initiated.

If, after 8 weeks, radiographs confirm healing and the patient is painless, full loading can be permitted.