How a Carpal Tunnel Brace Works and Which Ones to Get

doctor fitting 3D printed hand brace on patient

Anyone who works mostly with their hands, doing repetitive work, is likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. The common condition is felt with a weakness of the hand; burning, numbness or tingling in the fingers and thumb, and when you drop things more than usual. If your carpal tunnel syndrome is mild or moderate, you may only need to wear a carpal tunnel brace.

Do Carpal Tunnel Braces Work?

A carpal tunnel wrist brace reportedly works by relieving the pressure on the median nerve while keeping the wrist straight. In limiting movements, the brace may be able to prevent further strain and ease the pain. But is it truly effective?

The most recent study on the effect of carpal tunnel braces is from 2020, wherein participants who wore the wrist splint for six weeks experienced fewer symptoms. Unfortunately, the sample size for the randomized study is too small at 30 to conclusively determine the efficacy of a carpal tunnel brace.

In some cases, a doctor may prescribe a carpal tunnel splint. It’s another form of conservative, short-term treatment. It can be more rigid than a hand brace, restricting movement even further.

How Many Hours Should You Wear a Carpal Tunnel Brace?

In the study, participants who wore the wrist brace for carpal tunnel beyond 12 weeks didn’t see further benefits. But how many hours must you wear a hand brace?

Once you’ve confirmed the diagnosis for your pain is carpal tunnel syndrome, you may be able to wear a brace while you sleep at night.

Should you wear a carpal tunnel brace during the day?

A carpal tunnel brace is suitable to wear at night because the condition occurs from repetitive strain of the fingers and hand. And much of hand activities happen at night (unless you work at night). A brace restricts movement, which adds to the stress of your hand. Whereas at night, it simply rests and gives the carpal tunnel brace a chance to work.

So you can wear a hand brace for several hours. Wear one until the symptoms wear off and you feel confident using your hand during the day without feeling the pain.

What Type of Brace is Best for Carpal Tunnel?

guy on skateboard wearing hand brace
Photo from Breg Facebook page

Carpal tunnel braces aren’t expensive, with some costing less than $20. Each brace is designed with different materials and features. Some braces may even be worn throughout the day and others feel lighter.

To find the best carpal tunnel brace is the one that fist you well; it’s not loose, but not too snug that it cuts off circulation. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a proper brace at a price you can afford.

For options, see the list below:

Adjustable Hand Brace

Apollo Universal Wrist Brace from Breg

$22.20 (on Wal-mart)

Universal sizing works best for anyone who struggles to find the right fit. Breg’s Apollo brace for carpal tunnel is designed with adjustable dual enclosures, which contours and fits to the shape of your hand. Made with soft foam, it’s comfortable enough to wear at night.

Round-the-Clock Brace

Night Time Wrist Support from BraceOwl

$23.97 (on Amazon)

The product’s name specifies “night time” use, but according to the brand, this carpal tunnel brace may also be worn during the day. Because it “offers round-the-clock comfort and protection for your wrist,” you could wear the brace while at work. It’s made with neoprene, cotton and nylon.

Unlike other hand braces, BraceOwl’s may be worn on the left or right hand. And the metal splint in the brace is removable, so you have greater flexibility during the day.

Sweat-Free Wrist Brace

450-LT Orthosis Wrist Titan from Hely Weber

$21.60 (on eBay)

The hand brace from Hely Weber is made from felt, which allows this support to wick moisture and keeps your palm sweat-free. Its contoured palm side lets you lock the wrist in place easily and the lacing system makes it easy to modify to your needs. Breathable, adjustable and universal in size, this wrist brace may be ideal for active use.

Most Economical Carpal Tunnel Brace

Green Fitted Wrist Brace from MUELLER

$13.49 (on Wal-mart)

With 90 percent of Amazon buyers giving it four stars, MUELLER’s eco-friendly hand brace would be a good choice. The brace is made from recycled plastics and breathable, lightweight fabric. It’s reportedly comfortable enough for daytime use, yet sturdy enough to provide support and relief for carpal tunnel symptoms. You can get this wrist brace for left or right hand.

Carpal Tunnel Splint for Pain Relief

Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace from Featol

$16.99 (on Amazon)

How would you like a hot or cold gel pack in your hand brace? Featol’s feature-rich brace and splint (it has a removable metal splint) comes with cold gel packs, giving you pain relief. A cold compress reduces swelling and pain by slowing down the flow of blood whereas a hot compress boosts blood flow to warm up muscles before an activity.

Featol’s wrist brace isn’t just for carpal tunnel; it’s also used for tendonitis, arthritis and wrist sprain or pain. At $16.99, this adjustable wrist brace would be a practical choice.

Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Be Prevented?

woman stretching arms up with macbook on lap
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

Some people may be diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome because of medical conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes. But some people develop it from repetitive movements or working in a sedentary job. If this is the case, aggressive treatments like surgery may be avoided.

How can you prevent carpal tunnel?

  1. Take a 10- to 15-minute break from your work station every hour
  2. Try to keep your wrist in a neutral position, taking pressure off the median nerve
  3. Practice good posture every time you’re at your desk
  4. Type gently instead of pounding on your keyboard
  5. Stretch your fingers and hands
  6. Switch up activities to prevent straining your wrist and hands

When you start to feel some strain and notice symptoms similar to carpal tunnel, seek medical care to eliminate underlying medical conditions.  And follow some preventive measures when possible.

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