Arm SupportsArm supports are simple, wearable medical devices intended to protect the bones, joints, muscles, and tendons of the arm or wrist. They may treat injuries such as overuse or repetitive strain, provide support during recovery from surgery or an acute injury, help with pain relief, and even prevent fresh injuries. There are various types of support available. Things to consider when buying include the location and type of problem being addressed.
Types of Arm SupportsArm support options range from the traditional cloth sling to immobilizing night-time elbow braces. Which option is appropriate for you will depend on your condition and what your doctor recommends. Some of the most common types of arm support include:
- Compression Sleeves — Made of soft but firm elastic fabric and provide mild-to-moderate support.
- Silings — Usually made of cloth, slings cradle the arm next to the body, keeping it immobile. A sling may be for both arm and shoulder support.
- Elbow Straps — You place elbow straps around the upper forearm to ease tennis or golfer’s elbow symptoms. Some elbow straps include pressure pads that apply more pressure to the problem area rather than strongly compressing the entire forearm. Elbow straps are adjustable, and most have a hook and loop closure.
- Elbow Supports — These are usually adjustable and combine pressure sleeve and elbow strap features in one support. Most elbow supports are made of sturdy materials and provide moderate to strong support.
Common Conditions That May Require an Arm SupportTwo of the most common conditions that may benefit from arm support are tennis or golfer’s elbow. Both are types of tendonitis; tennis elbow affects the tendons on the outside of the elbow, while golfer’s elbow affects the tendons on the inside of the elbow.
Using a rigid brace for tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow is usually unnecessary, but arm supports may improve the conditions. Support for tennis or golfer’s elbow usually comprises a band worn around the forearm, or a compression sleeve that extends from mid-bicep to upper forearm.
Cubital tunnel syndrome, which involves nerve compression in the elbow causing pain in the forearm and hand, may also require arm support or even an elbow brace. Other conditions that may benefit from arm support or brace include sprains and strains, arthritis, muscle injuries, and stress fractures.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Arm SupportWhen selecting a product, be sure to choose the correct level of support. If you’re unsure how much support you need, talk to your doctor or your orthopedist. Some conditions may need only light support, such as a compression sleeve, while others may need the complete immobility of a sling.
Choose the correct size. Some products may be one-size-fits-all, while others may be available in various sizes. Some are adjustable. Your arm support must fit properly to be effective.