Wrist and hand braces: What you need to know before getting one
by Mitchel Tumuhimbise
July 6, 2019
Is your wrist joint pain giving you a restless time? Are you looking for a health device to ease your carpal tunnel or one to easy your handiwork”? Wrist and braces are the perfect fit for finding proper recovery, enabling you to go on with your work.
What are Wrist and hand braces?
Wrist and hand braces are health devices that help you manage wrist or hand pain. They are sometimes referred to as wrist splints. They help to keep the wrist in the best position. This may involve immobilizing or providing support to your wrist.
When might you need a wrist brace?
Very repetitive hands-on work or an injury to your hand may result in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This is basically a condition that is symptomized by numbness, itching, pain or tingling in the fingers or palm.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be severe if it persists resulting in numbness and loss of function of hand muscles. Sometimes, this pain may run up to the shoulders. This happens because a considerable amount of pressure is exerted to a nerve that runs from the shoulder to the hand. This nerve is called the median nerve. It goes through a narrow passage created by the wrapping of a bracelet-like ligament around the wrist. The mentioned narrow passage is what is called the carpal tunnel.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is, therefore, the commonest but not the only reason your physician or therapist may recommend a wrist brace to manage.
Although wrist bracing is widely associated with hand or wrist injuring, it should not be a surprise if a wrist brace became a part of your therapy recommendation from your physician.
Wrist braces may be prescribed in conditions of the wrist or fingers such as arthritis, pregnancy, and injury.
How to use a wrist brace
A wrist brace is quite an easy device to use. Your therapist or physician may provide initial assistance which includes choosing the type of wrist brace or splint that you need. Part of this is choosing the right wrist circumference for you.
Using the wrist brace depends on the conditions for your wrist pain. Your physician or therapist will recommend the best wrist brace to wear at what time.
The recommended time to wear a wrist brace also ranges from weeks to months depending on the recommendation from your physician.
Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis may require you to put on a wrist brace for considerably longer hours. A change of the type of wrist brace may also be advised by your physician or therapist.
What types of wrist braces/splints are available?
There are two types of wrist braces, resting and working braces.
Resting wrist braces
As the name suggests, these are used in times of rest. They are made of a rigid material such as metal or molded plastic to allow a more stabilized arm position during rest or sleep.
Extended use of the wrist brace may cause actual irritation of the skin from the material it is made of. The weakening or loss of muscle function may also result from wearing a resting wrist brace for more than the time intervals recommended by the therapist or physician. As an extra caution, it is not advisable to stop using the wrist brace if the pain is relieved without prior medical consultation.
Working wrist braces
Working braces help to stabilize the joints in your hand and wrist during active use of the hands. Being made up of elastic material, they are more flexible, enabling you to sport or do work involving repetitive use of hands.
Many of the online stores and pharmacies provide wrist braces in ranging in wrist circumference. Small, medium and large are the common sizes available at purchase.
However, working wrist braces may be not be custom-fitted by the time you buy them. This means soliciting the assistance of a medical professional such as a physical therapist or orthopedic expert to fit your wrist circumference would be necessary. As is with the resting wrist braces, the material of working braces may be irritating to your skin after a long time in use.
What to consider when purchasing a wrist brace
You have made up your mind to purchase a wrist splint but are not sure what to consider. Here are a few aspects to consider if you are thinking of purchasing one. As earlier seen, you may choose a wrist splint which particularly fits your wrist condition. These are a few add-ons to consider when acquiring a wrist brace.
Breathable and comfortable material
Contoured cotton, neoprene, fleece, flexible polyester, and procool material are key things to check for when purchasing a wrist brace. These ensure the wrist braces have better comfort. Wrist splints made of moisture absorbing or breathable material such as cotton are ideal for ensuring that your skin is not left damp from sweating.
Velcro fastenings may be the other key feature to look for when purchasing a wrist splint. If your hand condition needs your thumb to be fastened you may consider acquiring one that has a Velcro fastening.
Along with Velcro straps, elastic material ensures that the splint is adjustable, making the wrist brace easy to apply as well.
It is also important to discern whether to purchase a wrist splint that is washable. For better hygiene, it is recommended to purchase a washable wrist brace.
Some braces are made to suit both left and right hands.
Some wrist braces are designed to suit children. The size and ease of slipping the brace on and off are often key considerations when designing wrist braces suitable for children.
If it occurs to you that your hand’s condition will require you to have x-ray scans, you may need to choose a brace made with better radio-transparent material to ease the medical procedure.
Customized for a specific activity
If you are regularly involved in sports activities such as weight lighting and skiing, or if your work involves repetitive use of figures such as data entry, you may consider looking out for wrist braces designed for your specific role.