Metal support plate immobilizes where it's needed. Ergonomic design provides superior comfort. Interior fabric strip prevents Velcro from rubbing against the skin. Breathable padding and fabric make it comfortable all night.
The largest available size may not work for those with large, wide hands.
Brace is made of neoprene and nylon and is lined with copper. Can be worn on both hands. Velcro closure makes it easy to customize fit and support level. Since it allows decent range of motion, it's popular among typists and athletes.
Not recommended for individuals with neoprene or nylon allergies.
Cushioning beads in the palm of the hand offer soft stability. Places hand and wrist in neutral positions, making it comfortable for nighttime use. Can be used on either hand. Fully adjustable, easy-to-use design.
Velcro frays after a few months of consistent use.
Comfortable memory foam core. Made of lightweight, breathable materials. Fits those with small wrists better than other models. Offers flexible support. Palmar splint is effective at immobilizing the wrist and won't warp under pressure.
Difficult to keep clean since it's a lighter color than other braces.
Inside is contoured with a pocket of cushioning beads that raise and support fingers and the wrist. Can be worn on both sides. Thumb hole is wider to accommodate wearers with larger or swollen hands. Shell materials are soft and flexible, and won't cut into skin.
Occasional quality issues with the Velcro, and it's prone to snagging.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is no laughing matter. The pain, numbness, and tingling you might suffer from can interfere with your work and sleep.
Carpal tunnel braces are often the first defense against this uncomfortable condition. But finding the right one isn’t always easy. What you need is an in-depth look at carpal tunnel braces, specifically the features and considerations you need to make before buying. Some are designed to be worn overnight, while others are better during the work day.
Our shopping guide is designed to make your decision easier. Take a look and don’t forget to check out our top picks for the models that strike the perfect balance between support and comfort.
Types of carpal tunnel braces
● Wrist brace/support: Wrist braces or supports are the least invasive of the carpal tunnel braces. They feature a strap or sleeve that fits around the wrist, leaving the wrist and hand free to move. Not everyone gets relief from symptoms with this kind of brace but those that do appreciate the freedom of movement it offers.
● Standard carpal tunnel brace: Standard braces hold the wrist in place with a splint or stiff fabric one to four compression straps. These models leave the fingers and thumb free to move while restricting the wrist. You can wear them while working or going about your day and still have a reasonable about of mobility.
● Nighttime carpal tunnel brace: Nighttime carpal tunnel braces take movement restriction to the next level. They usually extend further down the wrist and up the hand with some models completely immobilizing the fingers and thumb. To aid comfort, they may have a palm stabilizer.
Size and fit
Proper size and fit ensure optimum restriction of movement. Most manufacturers base their sizes on wrist circumference so you’ll need to take this measurement before buying. People with small hands or those with larger than average hands may have to do some searching to find a brace that fits appropriately. Some brace designs are made specifically for these outlying sizes; it might just take some extra searching to find them.
You’re wearing the brace to reduce pain. If the brace itself isn’t comfortable, it won’t do its job effectively. Comfort relies on proper strap placement, fit, and padding. Straps should hold the brace snug against the wrist and palm of the hand. If they’re not hitting your hand in the correct position, you may have a loose fit that allows too much wrist movement to effectively reduce pain. Finally, adequate padding prevents rubbing or chaffing. It may come in the form of memory foam, foam beads, or neoprene fabric, but it shouldn’t irritate the skin.
The point of a carpal tunnel wrist brace is to reduce inflammation around the carpal tunnel where the median nerve travels from the arm to the hand. To do that the wrist is immobilized so the nerve does not become inflamed as it passes through the carpal tunnel. However, restricting movement of the wrist can be uncomfortable, especially during the day when you’re trying to go about your regular business. You want a brace that leaves the fingers and thumb mobile while restricting the wrist. It’s a fine line to walk as you decide between wrist restriction and hand mobility. If you’ll be wearing the brace in the daytime, lean towards mobility; for nighttime, opt for wrist restriction.
Reversible vs. hand specific
Some braces are designed to fit either the right or left hand. They’re convenient if you use braces on both wrists as you don’t have to find the right one for each wrist. You strap them on and get to work. Hand-specific braces are designed for either the right or left hand only. Hand-specific braces do a better job of immobilizing the wrist and relieving pain but if you don’t want to hunt down the right brace, opt for a reversible model.
Carpal tunnel braces have a splint within the brace that holds the wrist in the correction position. The material and design of the splint varies and can make a difference to the effectiveness, versatility, and durability of the brace.
● Plastic vs. metal: Splints are made of either plastic or metal. Metal is more durable and less flexible than plastic, which in this case is a good thing. However, metal splints can have sharp edges that wear through fabric quicker than plastic. Metal also adds weight.
● Removable splints: Depending on the degree of your carpal tunnel syndrome, you may not need the restriction of a splint to relieve your symptoms. The thick fabric and compression straps might be enough to reduce your pain. Removable splints increase the versatility and comfort and may allow for the brace to be machine washed.
The compression system is comprised of either straps or a bungee cord quick lace system. It’s key to a good fit. Braces may have anywhere from one to four compression straps held in place by either Velcro or a quick lace system. Velcro straps allow you to customize the compression for different parts of your wrist and hand. On the downside, if you wear the brace a lot, the Velcro can lose its grip, which makes the brace unusable. Quick lace systems last longer than Velcro but don’t offer the same customization. You’ll have to decide which is more important—custom fit or durability.
Padding can make a big difference when you’re wearing a brace all day or night. Braces may have memory foam or foam beads covered in breathable fabrics. The padding should fit the contour of your hand and protect your skin from abrasive straps and seams.
The hand can get sweaty when wearing a brace for hours. Fabrics treated with antimicrobial treatments keep odors down and make the brace easier to clean.
Breathable fabrics with ventilation features like slots and holes release heat and moisture to prevent sweating. This is particularly important at night because you won’t be aware of the heat build up.
Color may not seem like an important feature but it makes a difference in appearance and cleaning. Black braces, for example, show the least amount of dirt or wear and tear, making them easy to care for. However, black is far more conspicuous than beige or white. But, beige, and even more so white, have to be cleaned more often.
Carpal tunnel wrist braces run between $10 and $40. There are some excellent models both reversible and hand-specific at the low and high end of the price range. Even eco-friendly models that do not contain petroleum products and use recycled materials fall within this price range. Because you can find good braces any wear in this range, the choice really comes down to fit and comfort.
● When wearing a carpal tunnel brace at night, you want it to fit snug but not tight. You have to be careful to not restrict blood flow as it can make your symptoms worse.
● Carpal tunnel syndrome often gets worse at night because you don’t have conscious control of your wrists. Nighttime braces tend to be more restrictive and padded than daytime braces.
● Don’t compromise on fit. People with small hands or bone structure may have a harder time finding a brace, but there are models designed for those individuals. Everyone deserves a brace that fits for the best pain relief.
Q: Can carpal tunnel wrist braces be machine washed?
A: It depends on the model so check the manufacturer's guidelines. If it’s a model with removable splints, take out the splints before washing; for all other splints, spot clean or hand wash.
Q: Do braces work better than compression gloves or sleeves?
A: In general, braces are more effective at reducing the symptoms of CTS than compression gloves and sleeves. Braces hold the wrist in a neutral position to reduce inflammation around the carpal tunnel, whereas gloves and sleeves can only compress the area, which still leaves it open to painful irritation.
Q: I want relief for carpal tunnel, but I’d still like good wrist mobility. What are my options?
A: A wrist strap brace that doesn’t have a portion that fits over the hand offers relief while leaving the hand and wrist almost completely mobile. Another option is a brace that either doesn’t have a splint or one that has a splint that does not extend to the palm of the hand. This leaves the hand open to better movement.