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They’re an often forgotten part of the body, but our wrists take the brunt of many of our daily activities. They catch us when we fall and allow us to type, lift, push, and pull over and over again. Sometimes, these overly repetitive movements catch up to us, and our wrists experience a host of issues.
That’s when we can rely on wrist supports, such as braces, sleeves, splints, and other accessories. Wrist supports have a few jobs. Not only do they help compress the wrist, but they also ensure the wrist stays in an ergonomic position.
“Wrist supports offer stability to the bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles of the joint,” said Dr. Angelica Balingit, who specializes in internal medicine. “Wrist supports can alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, prevent injury, and promote healing.”
With Balingit’s expertise, we’ve identified the most common wrist issues below and listed our picks for the best wrist supports to address them.
- Best for carpal tunnel syndrome: OTC Wrist Splint
- Best for sprained wrists: BraceAbility Thumb and Wrist Spica Splint
- Best for arthritis or tendonitis: IMAK Smart Glove for Compression Therapy
- Best for fracture support: MedSPec Boxer Boxer Splint Wrist Support
- Best for weightlifting: HiRui Wrist Compression Strap
- Clinical care. Balingit identified types of wrist supports that provide relief for some of the most common wrist issues that people experience, including carpal tunnel syndrome, sprains, arthritis, tendonitis, fractures, and overuse due to physical activity.
- Ratings. We focused on manufacturers and brands with top ratings and reviews.
- Comfort and value. We also took into account the comfort, performance, and longevity of the product’s materials.
The products in this article reflect a range of price points. Prices are indicated as follows:
- $ = under $20
- $$ = $20–40
- $$$ = over $40
Made of breathable neoprene, this splint holds the wrist in a neutral position. It comes with two metal splints, one over the palm and the other over the back of the hand, which are removable for greater flexibility. It can be slipped on and off with one hand, and it comes in sizes from X-small to X-large.
Why carpal tunnel happens: According to Balingit, carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common wrist condition that benefits from wrist support. It happens when a nerve swells and pinches the carpal tunnel, a narrow passageway on the inside of the wrist.
It causes pain, tingling, and numbness in the hand, wrist, and fingers, primarily affecting the index, middle, and ring fingers. While carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by injuries, the most common cause is due to repetitive motions like typing.
What helps: Balingit says a cock-up style wrist splint can help with carpal tunnel by keeping the hand slightly bent back to prevent compression of the median nerve. “By restricting motion, it can reduce pain and promote healing,” she said. For carpal tunnel syndrome, a splint is best worn during sleep or periods of intense activity, she advises, and can be worn long term.
Though slightly more expensive than the OTC Wrist Splint, this splint has a few additional bells and whistles that might make it worth your while. And with 4.5 out of 5 stars and more than 4,000 ratings on Amazon, it’s a popular choice.
By immobilizing your thumb and wrist in an anatomical position, it can help with recovery and prevent re-injury. An additional benefit to this splint is that it’s available in either a righthand or lefthand version, and comes in sizes X-small to large.
Wrist supports like this are also used for conditions like de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, which some new parents and caregivers experience from repetitive lifting of children.
Why sprains happen: Wrist sprains can happen from either injury or overuse, says Balingit.
What helps: They can be addressed with a wrist splint that puts the wrist in a neutral position, similar to those worn for carpal tunnel syndrome. “In these cases, it would be worn most of the day,” Balingit said. For severe sprains, expect to use the wrist support for as long as 6 weeks.
This wrist support, called a wrist glove, helps with a variety of issues, including arthritis and tendonitis. That’s due to the helpful thumb support and flexible stays that keep the wrist in a neutral position. The beaded pad under the wrist is designed to promote circulation and cushioning.
If you want to wear this glove on the other hand, just turn it inside out. It comes in sizes X-small to medium.
Why arthritis and tendonitis happen: According to Balingit, arthritis and tendonitis usually go together when it comes to wrist supports. While arthritis indicates a loss of cartilage in the wrist bones, tendonitis is a swelling of the tendons that connect muscle to bones in the wrist. A sudden injury or repetitive movements can contribute to tendonitis.
What helps: In both cases, it’s best to keep the wrist in a neutral position. A wrist splint that offers thumb support is ideal, says Balingit, and can be used days to weeks at a time, or until symptoms are relieved.
This splint positions the wrist and fingers for healing of certain fractures, specifically those affecting the fourth and fifth metacarpal bones. The affected area will be immobilized at the correct angle with the adjustable aluminum stays. Because this splint will need to be worn continuously, it has a felt liner that wicks away moisture and inhibits the growth of bacteria.
Why fractures happen: A wrist fracture refers to a break in the bones of the wrist joint, often from a fall. It’s considered a more serious wrist issue. “Fractures need constant use of splints for 6 weeks,” Balingit said.
What helps: In this case, a more heavy duty splint or even a cast is used to completely immobilize the bones so they can heal. X-rays and follow-up medical care are needed to ensure proper healing.
The cheapest, least technical wrist support on the list, and also the highest rated, is this flexible cuff with a Velcro tightening strap. It provides support for activities such as weightlifting, basketball, tennis, and cycling, among others.
In addition to protecting and stabilizing, it provides a bit of extra compression. The neoprene blend is made for breathability and support while remaining lightweight. The strap is one size fits all, with an adjustable design meant to contour to the unique shape of your wrist.
How wrist supports help weightlifting: Many people engage in physical activities that are both repetitive and strenuous, such as weightlifting. These activities requires extra support of the wrist to prevent injury.
What helps: Balingit recommends a Velcro wrist support that offers stability yet is easy to get on and off.
When choosing the wrist support, consider the fit. “An ill-fitting support may cause irritation on the edges,” said Balingit. “A loose fitting support may not restrict wrist motion as intended.”
When it comes to knowing if you have the correct size and fit, Balingit’s trick is to see if you can grip and pick up objects while wearing the brace.
In addition to wearing the proper wrist support for your specific issue, remember to stretch and exercise your wrists regularly. Though, be sure to ask your physical therapist or healthcare professional for the best movements and exercises.
Find your ergonomic sitting and typing position
Of course, reducing the amount of time that your wrist is in an unnatural typing position can help relieve pain, too.
Balingit suggests prioritizing an ergonomic posture for desk work. This means having your:
- feet flat on the floor
- eyes looking straight ahead, not down
- arms bent at a comfortable 90-degree angle
Use speech-to-text software
Consider using voice-to-type tools that allow you to speak your notes rather than type them out, if your wrist pain is caused by repetitive movements like typing.
Move and stretch
Your physical therapist or healthcare professional can also provide you with a list of stretches and exercises to eliminate stiffness and build strength.
The amount of time you’ll need to wear your wrist support will depend on your specific wrist issue and how long it takes to heal. Note that most wrist supports are made of easily washable materials, but keeping your skin clean underneath the support is vital for long-term use.
To prevent injury, avoid repetitive lifting of heavy objects, and be sure to work in regular wrist exercises and stretching.