If you have been experiencing numbness, tingling or pain in your hand, wrist or arm, it may be carpal tunnel syndrome. If so, early treatment gives you the best chance of curing the problem before it becomes more serious.
In addition to stretching and performing exercises, braces are one of the best tools to help with carpal tunnel. The best is the Mueller Fitted Wrist Brace, which balances comfort and support without restricting your fingers' movement.
Carpal tunnel braces come in a variety of designs, with some offering significantly more support than others. Braces intended for daytime use generally provide the least support but offer the highest level of mobility. Rather than completely immobilizing your wrist and hand, they allow some freedom of movement to go about your normal activities more quickly.
Braces designed for nighttime use are more restrictive. They often extend higher up the wrist and further down into the palm. Braces won’t completely immobilize the fingers, but you may not be able to close your hand fully into a fist.
While carpal tunnel braces offer some level of adjustability, many are not universal. For optimum effectiveness, it is essential to buy a brace that fits your wrist well. One that is too big and loose won’t restrict movement enough, while too small can be tight and painful to wear.
If you know that you have smaller- or larger-than-average wrists and hands, you may need to search for a model specifically designed for people of your size.
Some braces fit either hand, and others are specifically for the left or right side. Hand-specific braces offer the best fit and, therefore, are the most effective. However, if you sometimes experience pain in both wrists and don’t want to buy a dedicated brace for each hand, you may find a reversible model more convenient.
When considering the materials a carpal tunnel brace is composed of, you should look at all of its components. Those with a splint use either plastic or metal. Plastic splints are lighter and less prone to have sharp edges that may eventually tear through the brace material. However, metal splints are more durable and generally more rigid than plastic, which translates to more support.
If your carpal tunnel syndrome is not too severe, it can be helpful to choose a brace with a removable splint. This way, you can remove the splint but still use the brace's compression system to provide light support with less movement restriction.
You should also look at the bace's fabric. Ideally, you want a lightweight, breathable fabric so your hand won’t sweat. If it has an antimicrobial treatment, that is an added plus.
The compression system on a carpal tunnel brace is usually one or several Velcro straps, depending on the length, or a bungee cord quick-lace system. Those with several Velcro straps offer the flexibility to tighten or loosen specific areas. Bungee cord quick-lace systems offer less customizability but usually last longer than Velcro.
If buying a brace with a rigid splint, it is a good idea to look for some padding to ensure it will remain comfortable when worn for long periods. This could include foam or simply extra layers of soft and thick fabric.
There are a couple of things to consider when choosing what color brace to buy. Black is more conspicuous when in public but less likely to show dirt and stains, so it retains a clean look without a lot of maintenance. Beige and other light-colored braces are prone to showing dirt, making them harder to care for, but are less conspicuous.
Most people can find a brace that fits their needs for $10-$40. Those without splints usually cost less, and those with metal splints tend to cost more.
A. While it is always best to see a doctor if you are experiencing any consistent pain, there are some easy-to-recognize signs that you may need a carpal tunnel brace. These include numbness and tingling in the hand or arm, constant hand or wrist pain, stiffness, muscle weakness, trouble gripping items and difficulty sensing temperature.
A. How effective any medical aid is depends on your specific issue, but compression sleeves are not ideal for carpal tunnel syndrome. Unlike braces, whose design keeps your wrist in a neutral position, compression sleeves pressure the area and don’t help with immobilization.
What you need to know: Featuring a rigid metal splint, this brace offers a good amount of support, yet it leaves the thumb and fingers unrestricted so you can quickly go about most of your normal daily activities.
What you’ll love: It’s made with a breathable latex-free fabric that won’t cause excessive sweating, and it comes in two sizes to ensure you can get a proper fit.
What you should consider: The Velcro could be a bit stronger.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This versatile brace can be worn on either hand and allows enough range of motion for typing and writing.
What you’ll love: It’s simple to wear, and the neoprene material can stand up to a lot of abuse without showing wear.
What you should consider: It’s not suitable for those with severe carpal tunnel syndrome.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: Those who need a solid level of immobilization when sleeping are well-served by this brace, which keeps your hand in a neutral position at all times.
What you’ll love: It has a removable splint so you can customize the support, and plenty of padding should ensure it remains comfortable at all times.
What you should consider: The Velcro will fray over time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.