If you want to learn the qualities of a good carpal tunnel brace and the best carpal tunnel wrist braces on the market, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article we will review what carpal tunnel is, the reason and importance of having a brace, the qualities of a good brace, and the best products on the market.
Let’s dig right in!
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a syndrome that causes tingling in the fingers. It occurs due to the compression of a nerve called the median nerve that travels through the carpal tunnel of the wrist (which is how it gets its name). As a result of compression of the nerve, it results in tingling, numbness, and even muscle weakness. If you want to read more medical details about the condition, please keep scrolling to the bottom of the article.
Comparison Table: The Best Carpal Tunnel Wrist Braces
Below I have compiled a list of the best carpal tunnel wrist splints in an easy-to-read table. Included in the table is my personal rating as well as the rating on Amazon (based on the time of reviewing these products when I wrote this article).
MedicalGeeker Rating 9.8/10
5,636 user ratings
|Mueller Green Wrist Brace|
MedicalGeeker Rating 9.4/10
9,607 user ratings
|Dr. Arthritis Wrist Support Brace|
MedicalGeeker Rating 9.3/10
2,451 user ratings
Why is it Important to Wear a Carpal Tunnel Splint?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is no joke! When it first starts, it just feels like tingling in your fingers that comes and goes, but this should not be taken lightly. The tingling is simply a warning of a much more serious underlying issue. It symbolizes temporary or permanent damage to the nerve itself.
If you do not act to help resolve the issue, it can potentially become a much more serious issue resulting in hand muscle weakness or become a permanent issue. When you catch carpal tunnel in its early stages and wear a brace, you have the best chances of recovery.
The brace helps with recovery by preventing motion of the wrist. Moving the wrist in either direction causes narrowing of the carpal tunnel, which further damages the nerve. By preventing motion of the wrist, the nerve has an opportunity to slowly heal or at the very least helps to minimize damage.
How Often and How Long Should You Wear the Brace?
I recommend that you follow your doctor’s instructions on how often to wear the carpal tunnel brace.
Generally, the longer you wear the brace, the better your chances will be of reducing your symptoms and allowing your nerve to make a recovery. Oftentimes, doctors will recommend that you wear your wrist splint at night. This is because your wrists often are in poor positions when you sleep, which is why it is common to have symptoms at night.
However, if you could wear the wrist brace all day (except for activities such as washing dishes or activities that require wrist motion), it will only further maximize your chances of nerve recovery. It might be worthwhile to trial wearing the brace 24/7 for 4 weeks to see what difference it makes.
It is important to note that nerves tend to recover very slowly, so do not expect a sudden improvement in your symptoms; be diligent in wearing the brace even if you don’t notice a sudden improvement in your symptoms and give your nerve time to slowly recover.
How Do You Wear a Carpal Tunnel Brace?
The specifics of putting on a wrist brace will be vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the general idea remains the same for all brace.
The point of the brace is to limit and restrict wrist motion. After putting on the wrist brace, use any straps (frequently Velcro straps) to secure the brace on your wrist and make sure that your wrist cannot move excessively within the brace. You do not necessarily need to make the straps very tight, and in fact, this is even discouraged because if the straps are too tight, it may cause skin issues or even may cause further compression of the carpal tunnel, which is contradictory to point of wearing the brace in the first place.
The video below shows how to put on a typical carpal tunnel wrist brace. It is not made for the specific brace above. These braces all come with instructions, but it is generally pretty self-explanatory. Nonetheless, having a quick visual guide can be helpful.
More Medical Details About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a clinical diagnosis. It is the result of compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel. To be more exact, it is also referred as median mononeuropathy at the wrist (mono = single, neuropathy = nerve disease). As a result of the compression, the median nerve can either be irritated resulting in stripping of the outer insulation layer called myelin or it can be damaged leading to actual destructions of the axons within the median nerve.
Clinically, when you have carpal tunnel syndrome, you will often notice a couple of symptoms (that usually develop in this order):
- Tingling in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger.
- Numbness in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger.
- Weakness with turning door knobs, keys, or opening jars.
Usually these symptoms are worsened with certain wrist flexion or wrist extension motions that further compress the nerve within the carpal tunnel.
Activities that people frequently report worsening of their symptoms include driving a car, holding a book or tablet, and typing on computers (all activities that cause wrist extension). People also frequently report symptoms that wake them up at night, which is usually a result of the subconscious wrist flexion that most people perform when they sleep.
As stated earlier in this article, when you have mild symptoms, it is best to start wearing a wrist brace. The more you could wear the wrist brace the more you increase your chances of recovery because you minimize wrist motion and thus minimize compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel.
The longer that you have carpal tunnel syndrome, the greater the risk that the severity of the nerve damage can progress.
Usually when the nerve damage is only mild, it only affected the insulation layer of the nerve.
By the time it becomes more severe, it affects that actual nerve cells (or axons) that result in numbness or weakness. By the time you reach this stage, it is highly recommended that you take further measures as guided by your physician. Wearing wrist splints are usually still recommended as they may help either improve your symptoms or prevent further worsening of your symptoms.
Your physician may send you for a nerve test (electromyography) to see the severity of the nerve damage. Other things that may be tried include steroid injections or potentially even a carpal tunnel release to help relieve the compression on the nerve.
There are many more reasons to having tingling and weakness in your fingers and hand than just carpal tunnel syndrome – issues with other nerves, neck issues, spinal cord issues, and brain issues. Make sure that if you have symptoms, that you first seek professional medical advice for a proper diagnosis.
Padua L, Coraci D, Erra C, et al. Carpal tunnel syndrome: clinical features, diagnosis, and management. Lancet Neurol. 2016;15(12):1273-1284.