A wrist brace or support can be used to conservatively treat many injuries to which the wrist joint is vulnerable. A well designed brace will provide mild to moderate support for weak, unstable or injured wrists by keeping them in a less stressful position, giving you pain relief and allowing your injury to fully heal. Wrist splints can provide pain relief to individuals afflicted by carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis or tendonitis (also known as de Quervain’s syndrome) of the wrist or thumb.
Some of the other injuries that can be successfully treated using a wrist support include:
A fall or other direct trauma that causes wrist sprains or strains, or even dislocation of the joint;
A repetitive stress injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome that may result from factory or computer work over an extended period.
An old injury that has not been properly treated that, in some cases, can result in arthritis of the wrist.
A wrist brace can also be used to proactively prevent sprains and strains of the wrist. It does this by providing support for weak unstable wrists that may be vulnerable to more serious injuries if subjected to physically demanding tasks without such protection.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is probably the most significant of the injuries treatable with a wrist brace. According to the Journal of Hand Surgery, approximately 5% of US adults are affected with the condition at any time. In 2010, 8% of adults employed in the US reported that they had experienced carpal tunnel at some point in their lives and 4% reported experiencing it over the past 12 months.
Wrist braces for treating carpal tunnel are meant to be worn while sleeping and usually have a metal or plastic splint that inhibits bending of the wrist. The purpose of the splint is to keep the wrist in an extended position during sleep and reduce the pain normally felt by carpal tunnel sufferers upon awakening in the morning and trying to straighten their wrists.
Hand and wrist braces fall into the following categories:
Wrist splints or stabilizers are generally more rigid hand braces and (as the name implies) are designed to stabilize the joint. They generally include features like metal springs, rigid stays or metal spoons to support the wrist and minimize disruption of the healing process. These wrist braces tend to be focused mainly on the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Basic wrist supports are more flexible and permit a wider range of movement in order to allow the patient to continue with everyday activities. These braces are effective in treating weak or unstable wrists or mild wrist sprains or strains.
Thumb spica braces are designed to stabilize the thumb and conservatively treat conditions like gamekeeper’s thumb, bursitis, De Quervains or thumb sprains and strains.
Some wrist braces fall into more than just one of the above categories – e.g. the Bio Skin Wrist/Thumb Spica functions as both a wrist support and a thumb spica. This type of wrist brace can be applied to treat compound injuries affecting several parts of the hand.
Tips For Wearing A Wrist Brace
We provide below some tips that may be of use to patients who have been advised to wear a wrist support and would like to know how they can get the most benefit from this device.
Wear Your Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace When Sleeping
If you are wearing a wrist brace to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, you should wear the brace to bed. Most people tend to bend their wrists while asleep and, if they have carpal tunnel, experience severe pain when trying to straighten them upon awakening. A carpal tunnel wrist brace will address this problem by keeping the wrists in a straight and neutral position while sleeping.
However, if you are wearing a brace to treat weak, unstable or injured wrists, you should wear your wrist brace mainly while awake and performing tasks that employ your hands. That is when your wrists will need the support that these supports provide.
Care & Maintenance
Many of these braces are made from materials that are specially designed to be non allergenic and breathable. As a result, these materials may not be suited to machine washing and/or drying. Please follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the care & maintenance of your brace to ensure it continues to perform as intended for as long as the patient needs.
The correct sizing for your wrist brace is absolutely essential. If your brace is a sized one, please be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s sizing charts in selecting the size that is right for you. This will ensure that you get the amount of support you need to treat your injury without experiencing undue discomfort.
For additional information on the features of particular braces below, please consult our knowledgeable customer service personnel. If you need medical advice about the wrist injuries treatable with a wrist brace, please consult with your healthcare professional.