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How Does a Wrist Brace Work?

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Wrist injuries are one of the most common upper limb problems you can expect to experience, especially if your work or preferred leisure activities involve repetitive movements, or extended hand use. Moderate to serious problems can be helped with physiotherapy and proper analgesia, but as with all health issues, prevention is better than cure.

For conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome,  RSI and arthritis, a wrist brace can be very helpful in not only alleviating symptoms, but in helping to solve some reversible conditions - and not just injuries - altogether.

A wrist brace works by immobilizing the wrist - and with some designs the thumb - joint, limiting movement which may irritate inflamed tendons and nerves further. In carpal tunnel sufferers, braces worn either full-time or just at night can bring dramatic improvements, even for sufferers with very severe symptoms. Since  carpal tunnel syndrome causes considerable inflammation and swelling, using a wrist brace to keep the wrist joint and the fingers in a neutral position for extended periods of time helps to reduce not just swelling, but also numbness and pain.

wrist brace

Keen crafters, especially those who enjoy patchwork or embroidery, are prone to developing a variety of repetitive strain conditions, and either an orthopedic brace, or a specially-designed crafter's brace will again help to reduce inflammation caused by repetitive movements by keeping the joints in a neutral position.

However, wrist splints are an ideal non-surgical and non-drug therapy for a variety of conditions affecting the hands and wrists. Available in both flexible supportive materials to allow the wearer to go about daily tasks, and with a metal or plastic support which fits on the underside of the hand for resting use, a wrist brace will not only help with reducing swelling through gentle compression, but limit over-use and the range of movement, which can irritate inflamed areas.

It is important, however, that you stick to a regular splint wearing regime, and that you make sure that a practitioner has fitted them properly, and re-assesses fit on a regular basis as any swelling reduces. Many wearers can find them uncomfortable, and they can get both sweaty and very dirty if you are wearing them for most of the day. Most wrist braces are machine washable with the rigid support removed, so it's worth investing in two pairs - one for wear, and one for the wash.

Wrist-pain sufferers report not only significant pain reduction with regular use, but also increased grip strength, so getting used to how the wrist brace changes how you may have to perform day to day tasks is worthwhile. Learning to adjust will make not only everyday tasks using your hands much easier and less painful, but reduce the risk of you doing further damage. 

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