Functional distal interphalangeal joint splinting for trigger finger in laborers: a review and cadaver investigation

Orthopedics. 1998 Mar;21(3):305-9; discussion 309-10.


This two-part study evaluates the efficacy of functional distal interphalangeal joint (DIP) splinting for the treatment of trigger finger. Thirty-one fingers from 21 meat packing plant workers were treated with DIP splinting. A single corticosteroid injection was offered if triggering was stage 4 or greater. All workers returned to work immediately. Eighty-one percent of the digits were treated successfully (mean follow-up: 1 year). Treatment failure correlated with duration of symptoms and stage of triggering but did not correlate with age, race, sex, disease in multiple digits, or prior treatment. For the second part of the study, the effect of DIP splinting on flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) tendon excursion was studied in 16 fingers from 4 fresh cadavers. Excursion decreased 4.8 mm for the Stax splint and 4.2 mm for the dorsal Alumafoam splint. We conclude that DIP splinting provides a reliable and functional means of treating work-related trigger finger without lost time from work. Our cadaver investigation supports our theory that DIP splinting significantly decreases FDP excursion.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cadaver
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Finger Joint*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat-Packing Industry
  • Occupational Diseases / therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Splints*
  • Tenosynovitis / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome