How to Choose and Wear a Wrist Brace or Support

The wrist is an amazingly flexible part of the body, made up of eight small bones, two long forearm bones and three main joints. Because it’s so complex, the wrist is also vulnerable to strain and injuries from overuse, athletic activities, falls, and chronic conditions like arthritis.


A wrist brace, splint or other support may offer relief. The right brace can provide support, align your wrist, reduce swelling or immobilize the joint.


If you’re not sure what’s causing your wrist pain, or if you’re injured your wrist, you should see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis. Waiting too long to get medical attention can make the problem worse or cause your wrist to heal incorrectly.


This guide walks you through the types of wrist supports that are available and the conditions that can be helped by wearing a brace.

Types of Wrist Braces and Supports

  • Wrist sleeves provide gentle compression and minimal support to stabilize the wrist, improve circulation and relieve pain. Wrist compression sleeves can be helpful for conditions such as arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Arthritis gloves also provide gentle compression, similar to wrist sleeves but for the fingers as well.
  • Wrist braces or supports compress the joint to relieve pain and swelling and also keep the wrist in a neutral position. Wrist braces can help conditions such as arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and others.
  • Overnight wrist braces are designed to support a painful or injured wrist while you’re sleeping. They typically are softer and have more padding than day-use wrist braces.
  • Wrist stabilizers provide rigid support for weak, injured or arthritic wrists.
  • Wrist splints or immobilizers are made to hold the wrist in place, helping to heal conditions like severe sprains and fractures.

When wearing a wrist brace, always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Make sure the brace or support is correctly sized for your wrist, and don’t fasten it so tightly that it’s uncomfortable. Keep the brace clean by following directions for machine-washing or hand-washing your brace.

Conditions That May Require a Wrist Brace

Wrist arthritis: Arthritis involves pain, swelling, stiffness and inflammation in the wrist. It can be caused by an old injury, by the age-related wearing of cartilage (osteoarthritis), or by an autoimmune disorder (rheumatoid arthritis). Wearing a wrist brace or sleeve designed for arthritis can help relieve symptoms.


Carpal tunnel syndrome: The carpal tunnel is a structure of bone and ligament that serves as a pathway for the medial nerve. Overuse and repetitive movements of the wrist can cause swelling, which puts pressure on the nerve and results in pain, tingling or numbness in the fingers. Wearing a brace to align the wrist can relieve this pressure and help carpal tunnel syndrome.


Fractured wrist: Any of the wrist’s 10 bones can suffer a break, although fractures are most common in the radius (one of the long forearm bones). It’s important to see your medical provider right away if you suspect a wrist may be fractured. A splint or cast can help minor fractures heal, while more serious breaks may need surgery.


Growth plate fracture: Growth plates — the growing tissue at the ends of a child’s bones — are fragile and vulnerable to fractures. A cast or splint can help minor fractures heal.


Sprained wrist/wrist ligament tear: The wrist’s ligaments keep the bones in place and stabilize the wrist joint. When the wrist is forcefully injured — usually because of a fall onto the hand — the ligaments can be stretched or torn. A mild sprain can be treated with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). A moderate sprain may need a rigid wrist splint, while a severe sprain can require surgery and rehabilitation.


Wrist tendonitis (tendinitis): Tendons are the tough tissues in the wrist that connect your forearm muscles to the bones of your hand. When these tendons become inflamed and irritated from overuse (often from repetitive motion at work, or from playing sports), wrist pain, swelling and stiffness can result.


Ganglion cyst: A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled lump that commonly appears along the tendons or joints of the wrists or hands. These cysts aren’t harmful by themselves, but may cause pain or discomfort if they press on a nerve. Temporary immobilization with a brace or splint can help the cyst shrink.

Related Products