Wrist supports are a popular way to treat carpal tunnel syndrome and other injuries. Athletes use similar devices to prevent injury or improve performance. But misusing a support device can actually cause injury. Learn what types of supports exist for what purpose before deciding to buy one for your wrist.
Medical Wrist Supports
Medical wrist supports at least partially immobilise the wrist joint so injured tissue can heal. Immobilisation or compression can also ease pain and prevent swelling, depending on the nature of the injury and the design of the support. Doctors often recommend supports for sprains, tendonitis, arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as for fractures after the main cast has come off. Although wrist supports do not require a prescription, it is important to get a doctor's advice. These devices only work if used correctly as part of a complete treatment plan. Otherwise, the support might actually make the injury worse despite the short-term pain relief.
Overview of Types
Doctors like to use a variety of wrist supports in order to immobilise only parts of the wrist that are actually injured. Some supports prevent the wrist from bending backward but allow it to flex forward, while others allow forward but not backwards bending. Some immobilise only the ring and little fingers and associated wrist joints, while others immobilise the first two fingers and associated joints only. Some supports leave all the fingers entirely free. Wrist supports range from splints that provide total wrist immobilisation to simple compression sleeves. The one you buy should match the injury. Do not buy based on price or comfort.
Athletic Wrist Supports to Prevent Injuries
Athletes like volleyball players or cyclists often use different sports wrist supports like wrist wraps or splints in order to prevent injury or to allow them to keep playing despite a minor injury. Besides sports, many use gym wrist supports for activities like weightlifting. These differ from medical splints in that their design must allow the movements a given sport requires, even if that means providing less support. Athletes do not necessarily have to talk to their doctor about wearing a support, as long as there is no injury to treat.
Athletic Wrist Supports to Improve Performance
Some wrist supports, like those specifically for bowling or golf, help maintain proper form, thereby improving performance. These devices are specific to the sport they are designed for. Some are adjustable, so the user can decide which wrist position is best for a particular swing or throw.