Acner.org: Acne treatment

Acner.org: Acne treatment

Splint Complications

Splints made of plaster, aluminum or fiberglass provide support to an injured body part while it heals. The health care provider places the padded splint under the limb, toe or finger and secures it with tape or an elastic bandage. Although casts provide better support, splints allow access for adjustments and skin inspection to avoid potential complications, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons notes.

Skin Damage

Pressure on the skin under the splint can cause irritation and damage, the most common complication of splinting, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Padding the inside of the splint, especially where it will be in contact with bony prominences, can help to avoid skin breakdown. All materials that touch the skin must be clean, dry and smooth. Wrinkles, indentations, sand or dirt can cause pressure points on the skin. Patients should be instructed to avoid using coat hangers or other objects to scratch the skin under a splint and to keep the inside of the splint clean.

Compartment Syndrome

Compartment syndrome, a rare but serious complication of splinting, results from swelling within a closed space after damage to muscle or bone. The building pressure compromises blood flow within the space, a potentially limb-threatening condition. Symptoms include tingling, numbness, increasing pain, swelling, bluish color and cold temperature of the affected limb. Treatment involves removing the splint immediately and, if the symptoms continue, an emergency fasciotomy--a surgical procedure that opens the muscle compartment to relieve pressure, according to The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. Without treatment, the complications of compartment syndrome can lead to death.

Infection

Infections can develop in the warm, moist environment under a splint, the American Academy of Family Physicians notes. Any break in the skin is a potential entry point for bacterial or fungal infections, so the patient and health care team should inspect frequently for sores, cuts and other skin damage. Drainage, redness, fever or other signs of infection need immediate treatment.

Nerve Damage

Injuries cause swelling during the first 48 to 72 hours that may compromise circulation or cause nerve damage if the pressure increases. Elevating the injured limb above the heart and applying ice packs to reduce swelling can help to minimize swelling. The patient should check her toes or fingers often during the first two to three days after injury for tingling, numbness and pressure. Moving the extremities also reduces swelling by stimulating blood flow back to the heart.

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