For many hand patients, oedema can be an issue. Digis-sleeves is a great option to prevent or reduce swelling. And they are easy to make!

We usually use Lycra fabric, which comes in a variety of colours. We mainly use the beige or black as it has been the easiest to get hold of and seem to be a popular choice for our patients.

Be aware that not all Lycra is the same. If it is too thin, it does not hold compression very well. If it is too thick, it gives too much compression, compromises circulation and also makes it more difficult to move the finger.

An easy way to make a few digi-sleeves at the same time is to sew a “sausage” of them and cut them after. You can then adjust them slightly to each patient. This way you will save a lot of time.

If you have an elastic straight seam option on you sewing machine, use that. Otherwise I would recommend a small. tight zig-zag, rather than a straight seam, to allow more stretch on the sleeves.

Make sure not to cut the digi-sleeves too short as this will expose too much of the tip, causing the swelling to be pushed distally, with swollen tips as a consequence. The fabric also tends to shrink/shorten after use, so leaving it a bit longer will keep the fit for longer. Keeping it long enough will also allow the sleeve to be cut down from the proximal end, as the swelling reduces and you want to add more compression.

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