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A number of factors can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, such as injury or trauma to the wrist, fluid retention during pregnancy, hormone issues, and repetitive stress. Depending on the cause, you may eventually need treatment for a specific underlying cause.
But in the meantime, when the pain starts up, you may start looking for some relief. For many people, the first step is usually buying a wrist brace. Wearing a wrist brace or splint on the affected arm for a few weeks can sometimes remove the pressure and relieve symptoms.
We talked to two orthopedic specialists to find out what to look for when choosing a brace, as well as the benefits of wearing one. We also got their input on a list of frequently asked questions about braces for carpal tunnel syndrome.
We took all this information into account in choosing our top 10 carpal tunnel braces for 2021. Read on to learn more.
Quick look at our top 10 braces for carpal tunnel syndrome
- Armstrong Amerika Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace Night Support
- BraceOwl Night Time Wrist Support
- ComfyBrace Wrist Brace
- Featol Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace
- Mueller Green Fitted Wrist Brace
- OTC 8″ Wrist-Thumb Splint
- Walgreens Deluxe Wrist Stabilizer
- Yosoo Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace
- Zofore Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace Support and Metal Splint Stabilizer
- Zouyue Adjustable Splint Wrist Brace
1. Armstrong Amerika Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace Night Support
- Price: $$
- Features: This brace is comfortable and designed for day and nighttime wear. It’s made of a breathable material and comes in both a right-handed model and a left-handed version for a better fit.
- Customer reviews: Customers gave this brace 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, with many customers reporting that the wrist effectively stabilized their wrists and is a good value for the price.
2. BraceOwl Night Time Wrist Support
- Price: $$$
- Features: This brace has an ergonomic cushion support for the wrist and can be used for either your left or right hand. It’s made of latex-free, breathable fabric.
- Customer reviews: This brace received a 4.8 out of 5 customer rating on Amazon. Customers found it to be a very comfortable wrist stabilizer.
3. ComfyBrace Wrist Brace
- Price: $$$
- Features: This adjustable brace includes three straps that allow you to tighten or loosen the fit as desired. It’s also cushioned with “therapeutic beads” that conform to the shape of your hand.
- Customer reviews: This brace has received good ratings on Amazon (4.6 out of 5 stars), with customers saying that it’s easy to put on and is both comfortable and supportive.
4. Featol Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace
- Price: $$
- Features: This brace is available in multiple sizes. It contains a removable metal splint for easy washing, and also includes a removable gel ice pack. If you’re tired of all the all-black choices, this light gray model might appeal to you.
- Customer reviews: Amazon customers rated it a 4.6 out of 5 stars, commenting on its comfort and durability, as well as the included ice pack.
5. Mueller Green Fitted Wrist Brace
- Price: $$
- Features: This wrist brace is adjustable, with two straps for easy customization. It also comes in different sizes, such as S/M and L/XL. The inner lining is made from ecologically minded recycled PET bottles.
- Customer reviews: This brace got 4.6 out of 5 stars from Amazon customers, who reported they liked the support, fit, and breathability.
6. OTC 8″ Wrist-Thumb Splint
- Price: $$$
- Features: This brace is available in a variety of sizes from S to XL, with separate models for the left and right hand. Adjustable straps allow you to customize the fit. If you’re concerned about finding a brace that fits your wrist, this version might be worth trying.
- Customer reviews: Amazon customers gave this a 4.4 out of 5 stars. One customer who found it challenging to find a brace small enough for her wrist reported that it was “very comfy and not too bulky.”
7. Walgreens Deluxe Wrist Stabilizer
- Price: $$$
- Features: This brace holds the wrist immobile and stabilizes it to relieve the pressure on the median nerve. It includes three adjustable straps and is available in S/M and L/XL. Although this product is a little more expensive than other brands on our top 10 list, there’s a convenience factor to consider since you may be able to buy one at your local drugstore.
- Customer reviews: Customers at Amazon liked how the straps can be adjusted to fit the wrist and gave this product 4.6 out of 5 stars.
8. Yosoo Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace
- Price: $
- Features: This brace is available in separate left- and right-hand versions. It also includes a metal splint that can be removed for washing. This lower-cost brace will offer stability and support for your wrist, but if you have extra-large wrists, it might not fit. It’s a one-size model that fits wrists up to 9 inches in circumference.
- Customer reviews: Amazon customers gave this product 3.9 out of 5 stars. One customer felt that the opening for the thumb was not large enough.
9. Zofore Sport Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace Support and Metal Splint Stabilizer
- Price: $$
- Features: This wrist brace is available for the left or right hand. It contains a removable metal bar for immobilizing the wrist, along with two wide adjustable straps. You can buy a smaller or larger version of this brace, depending on what you need.
- Customer reviews: Amazon customers gave this brace a 4.6 out of 5 stars for its firm and comfortable support.
10. Zouyue Adjustable Splint Wrist Brace
- Price: $$
- Features: Made of breathable fabric, this brace has a removable metal bar for stabilization, and is available in both a right-hand and left-hand model. This brace comes in medium and large sizes and has two adjustable straps for customization.
- Customer reviews. Amazon customers gave this brace 4.5 out of 5 stars noting it fits comfortably and is made of good material.
There are a few key things that you should look for in a brace, experts say.
Immobilization of the wrist
Since the whole point of a brace is to keep your wrist from bending, you want to choose a brace that accomplishes that. You may want to look for braces that contain a metal bar or insert, which is a good way to ensure wrist immobility, according to Debdut Biswas, MD, who specializes in orthopedic surgery of the hand, wrist, and elbow at Northwestern Medicine in Warrenville, Illinois.
The correct size
Carpal tunnel braces tend to be unisex. That is, there’s not really choices by gender. What’s most important, experts point out, is to size the brace correctly for your wrist and needs. You might need to measure your wrist before buying a brace. Check the packaging to see what’s recommended.
Comfort and fit
“You have to make sure you don’t get a brace that’s too tight,” says Theresa Marko, DPT, OCS, a clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy and owner of Marko Physical Therapy in New York City. The brace should be snug, but it shouldn’t dig into your skin or cause new pain.
Price is also a factor you might want to consider. There are models out there with a price tag in the triple digits, but Biswas and Marko don’t believe you need to spend that much to get an effective brace.
What to avoid
Avoid braces that are too soft and allow your wrist to move or bend. According to Biswas, some people will choose a soft wrap, thinking it will be adequate and comfortable. “And that’s typically not effective,” he says, explaining that a soft wrap won’t be able to prevent the wrist from bending or curving.
The whole point of wearing a brace for carpal tunnel is to immobilize your wrist and remove the pressure on your nerve that’s causing the pain.
“Anything that will increase the pressure on the nerve will make the symptoms worse,” explains Biswas. “A well-fitting brace will hold your wrist in place so it can’t bend. When your wrist is in a bent position, that places more pressure on the nerve, and that’s when symptoms begin worsening.”
You might have some questions about how to appropriately wear a brace once you choose one. Here are some questions that people often ask their doctors and physical therapists about choosing and wearing a wrist brace for their carpal tunnel syndrome.
How long do I need to wear a brace if I develop carpal tunnel syndrome?
The length of time you’ll need to wear a brace can vary, based on the severity of your symptoms. “I would at least try it for a couple of weeks and see how you feel,” says Marko.
Will I need to wear a brace permanently?
A brace can help, but it should not be considered a permanent solution. “If symptoms aren’t really improving, and the brace is becoming a necessity, I would probably encourage someone to consider other treatment options, which may or may not include surgery,” says Biswas.
Should I wear my brace at night?
Yes, according to Biswas. “Nighttime is really the most effective time to wear it,” he says, noting that many people unknowingly bend or flex their wrists while they’re asleep.
Can I continue to type or do repetitive actions while wearing a brace?
You can, if you need to, says Marko. But she suggests wearing your brace while you’re typing or doing work-related activities, and then giving your hands and wrists a break while you’re doing other activities just for fun.
Can I swim with my brace — that is, get it wet?
You can get your brace wet if you feel you need to keep it on while swimming or showering. “It’s absolutely OK to get it wet,” says Marko. “However, you want to dry it out. If you’re doing to do wet things (while wearing a brace), I would suggest having two braces.” Keep one for dry activities and one that you use only for swimming or water sports — and hang it up to dry after using it.
Is an over-the-counter brace as effective as a custom brace?
Yes, says Biswas. You really don’t need to spend the time and money to get a custom-fitted brace for carpal tunnel symptoms. There are plenty of affordable, effective braces available for sale online and in your local drug and grocery stores.
Should I wear braces on both wrists or only on the wrist that is hurting?
It’s not necessary to wear a brace on your wrist if you’re not experiencing any carpal tunnel pain there. However, if you have pain in both wrists, it’s fine to wear braces on both wrists, says Biswas.