What are the best carpal tunnel braces?
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 specific exercises, braces are one of the best tools for the job.
This guide covers everything you need to know about carpal tunnel braces to make an informed buying decision. We’ll also highlight some great options that work well for most people, such as the Mueller Fitted Wrist Brace. This hand-specific brace does an excellent job of balancing comfort and support without restricting the movement of your fingers.
What to know before buying a carpal tunnel brace
Support and mobility
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 amount of 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 into a fist fully.
Fit and comfort
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.
Reversible or hand specific
Some braces fit either hand, and others are specifically for the left or right side. Hand-specific braces will offer the best fit and, therefore, be 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.
Features to consider in a quality carpal tunnel brace
When considering the materials a carpal tunnel brace is composed of, you should look at all its components. Models 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 model with a removable splint. This way, you can remove the splint but still use the compression system of the brace to provide some light support without as much movement restriction.
You should also look at the fabric of the brace. Ideally, you want a lightweight and breathable fabric so your hand won’t sweat. If it features 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. Models with several Velcro straps offer the flexibility to tighten or loosen specific areas of the brace. 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.
How much you can expect to spend on a carpal tunnel brace
Most people can find a carpal tunnel brace that fits their needs from $10-$40. Those without splints usually cost towards the lower end of the price spectrum, and those with metal splints tend to lean towards the higher end.
Carpal tunnel brace FAQs
How do I know if I need a carpal tunnel brace?
A. While it is always best to see a doctor if you are experiencing any kind of 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.
Are compression sleeves as effective as braces for carpal tunnel syndrome?
A. How effective any medical aid 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 simply put pressure on the area and don’t help with immobilization.
What is the best carpal tunnel brace to buy?
Top carpal tunnel brace
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
Top carpal tunnel brace for the money
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
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Those who need a solid level of immobilization when sleeping is well-served by this brace because it 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 is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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