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What is a Wrist Brace?

By Nat Robinson
Updated Feb 02, 2024
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A wrist brace is a device that wraps around the wrist, the joint where the arm meets the hand, and helps support the joint and restrict movement. The brace often extends part way up the arm and down onto the hand, with a band that covers the area between the thumb and the fingers. A wrist brace is usually worn to support the ligaments and muscles of the wrist when they have been injured or impaired.

An injury to the wrist may result in a sprain or strain, requiring some degree of immobilization to heal. Repetitive motion injuries, such as carpel tunnel syndrome, are a common condition that may be treated with a wrist brace. Typically, the brace will restrict the movement of the wrist, preventing the joint from being moved in ways that can cause further damage. The length of time a brace is worn will generally depend on the severity of the condition or injury to the wrist.

Wrist braces are most often worn due to an injury to the joint. Repetitious activities, a sudden impact, or falling and landing on an outstretched hand are some ways to injure a wrist. Often, such injuries will result in a sprain. When a sprain occurs, the ligaments around the joint are stretched beyond their normal capacity, typically causing a great deal of pain.

Overuse and strenuous physical activity can also cause muscle strains in the wrist. Typically, a strain occurs when the wrist muscles are torn or become overstretched. A swollen wrist and pain may be some initial indications of a strain. Individuals enduring this type of injury may wear a wrist brace to support the damaged muscles. The brace can assist in the healing by acting as a protection device for the wrist and to limit the range of motion while the muscles heal.

Carpel tunnel syndrome is one of the most common conditions treated by using a wrist brace. This condition occurs when the median nerve, which runs in the palm side of the wrist, is compressed. Pain, which may radiate from the wrist into the hand and fingers and up the arm, is one of the most common symptoms of carpel tunnel syndrome, although it can also cause tingling and numbness in the same areas. A brace may be worn by individuals with this condition to provide support to the sensitive side of the wrist where the median nerve lies.

Wrist physical therapy may also be recommended to individuals with ongoing wrist problems. Physical therapy will work to rehabilitate damaged wrist ligaments and muscles through a variety of strengthening exercises. In addition to wearing a wrist brace and undergoing physical therapy, minor wrist problems may also be treated by over-the-counter pain medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs. A medical professional should be consulted about any ongoing problem with the wrist for a proper diagnosis and instruction on obtaining the appropriate wrist support for the individual injury or condition.

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Discussion Comments
By candyquilt — On May 31, 2014

I found a very cool wrist brace that has a slot on the side to insert a small cold pack. I'm supposed to apply a cold pack on my wrist several times a day and also wear a wrist brace. Now I can do both at the same time. This is making life easier for me.

By fify — On May 31, 2014

@ysmina-- I think most of us don't realize how harsh repetitive movements can be on our ligaments and tendons. But it's a real risk, especially if you have to do the same type of movement day after day. That's why many typists develop carpal tunnel syndrome.

Using a wrist brace, along with cold therapy and pain relievers, is the best way to treat a sprain. Even if you had carpal tunnel, you would be given the same treatment.

You might want to consider a soft wrist brace all the time while typing as a preventative measure. Also make sure that you have proper support for your wrists while typing.

By ysmina — On May 30, 2014

When I was in school, I played lots of sports but never got hurt. I finished school, started working and managed to strain both wrists typing! Isn't that crazy?

Now I have to wear wrist braces and rest until the pain and inflammation goes away.

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