Even though human and chimpanzee DNA is very similar, our extremities are quite different– particularly when it comes to the wrist. In 2008, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory discovered that humans begin to grow thumb and wrist structures during fetal development. Since our fingers, wrists and thumbs are far more agile and offer much better dexterity compared to our evolutionary cousins, it makes sense that they’d require more time to grow. These key features, along with our more advanced brains, give us a key advantage: the ability to craft and use complex tools.
The intricacy of our wrists comes at a cost. Human wrists are thinner and much more fragile compared to chimpanzee wrists. If you use your wrists to cushion a fall, you may end up with a wrist fracture or a TFCC (Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex) tear. More subtle problems can cause wrist pain, as well. Carpal tunnel syndrome– a painful wrist condition that’s the result of nerve compression– affected 3.1% of the US workforce in 2010.
One of the best ways to treat wrist pain is with a wrist brace. Wrist braces come in a wide variety of different shapes and styles. Some wrist braces are designed to stabilize the wrist and stop it from bending, but other types of wrist braces merely provide support and are meant to be used for protection.
Here are the best wrist braces you can buy:
- Mueller’s Green Fitted Wrist Brace helps alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome because it’s designed to hold the wrist firmly in place without restricting the fingers.
- If wrist pain or discomfort keeps you up at night, you may want to try ComfyBrace’s Night Wrist Sleep Support Brace. Its smooth fabric and puffy cushioning won’t bother you when you sleep.
- Rip Toned Wrist Wraps come in two different styles: medium stiff and extra stiff. They’re perfect for lifting weights and other similar strenuous activities.
- Lightweight and comfortable, Dr. Arthritis’ Premium Copper Lined Wrist Support provide good wrist protection and moderate wrist support.
- WristWidget’s Patented Adjustable Wrist Brace is a very simple yet surprisingly effective wrist brace that counteracts TFCC injury-related wrist pain.
The best wrist brace for carpal tunnel syndrome
Mueller Green Fitted Wrist Brace
If you’re suffering from carpal tunnel-related pain, you need a comfortable yet supportive wrist brace you can wear all day long. This brace fits the bill because it has a soft fabric liner that stops the velcro straps from making contact with your skin. Since it doesn’t restrict finger movement, it won’t stop you from using a keyboard. The built-in support rod makes sure that you keep your wrist straight when you work.
- Reduces carpal tunnel-related wrist pain. To recover from carpal tunnel syndrome, you have to break bad wrist posture habits. This wrist brace will help you do exactly that.
- Designed to be worn all day. The breathable, antimicrobial fabric won’t start to smell after extended use.
- Two available sizes. The SM/MD size fits five to eight-inch wrists, while the LG/XL size accommodates eight to ten-inch wrists.
- Sewn-in support rod. This support structure reduces wrist stress by forcing you to keep your wrist straight.
- Doesn’t rub or chafe. A piece of fabric stops the velcro straps from making skin contact.
- Allows full finger movement. You can still type on a keyboard with this brace on.
- Limited return policy. You can return this wrist brace if you get the wrong size, but the warranty only covers you if you find a defect immediately after you receive the brace.
- May not be suitable for people with large hands. The LG/XL size only has a longer velcro strap. The rest of the brace is the same size.
In a nutshell
This wrist brace’s fabric liner makes it comfortable to wear and the support structure forces you to keep your wrist straight. These two features make this wrist brace ideal for correcting carpal tunnel syndrome. Since it doesn’t restrict finger movement, you can even wear it at work.
The best padded wrist brace for sleeping
ComfyBrace Night Wrist Sleep Support Brace
ComfyBrace’s unique Night Wrist Sleep Support Brace comes equipped with a puffy bean bag-like cushion. The cushion stops the removable metal splint inside your brace from bothering you while you sleep while also improving the overall comfort of the brace. At the same time, the brace’s breathable, porous fabric stops you from getting sweaty when you have it on.
- Bead-filled cushion provides comfort and support. The most unique thing about this brace is its extra puffy cushion, which provides extra comfort.
- Removable metal splint. The splint keeps your wrist straight and stops it from bending, but you can slide it out if it bothers you or if you don’t need it.
- Fits right and left hands. The fact that you can wear this brace on both hands makes it versatile.
- Slide-on design. This wrist brace is easy to put on and take off because it only has a few straps.
- Won’t make you sweat. This cast looks thick, but it is surprisingly breathable thanks to its unique cushion and porous fabric.
- Money-back guarantee. ComfyBrace backs up all of its products with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
- Too bulky to wear while typing. The extra comfort that the bead-filled cushion provides is a clear a benefit at night, but it’s a disadvantage during the day.
In a nutshell
You’d be hard pressed to find a wrist brace that’s as supportive and as comfortable as ComfyBrace’s Night Wrist Sleep Support Brace. If you’re recovering from wrist surgery or often experience wrist pain or numbness when you sleep, it could be your best option.
The best wrist brace for lifting weights
Rip Toned Wrist Wraps
The main problem with ordinary wrist braces is that they’re not tough enough to survive in a gym. Most wrist braces can’t be machine washed, and their stitching is not designed to withstand weightlifting. That’s where Rip Toned’s Wrist Wraps comes in. They come in two different styles: regular and extra stiff. When you get these braces sweaty, you can safely throw them in the wash with the rest of your clothes.
- Designed with athletes in mind. Unlike standard wrist braces, these ones are specially made to meet the needs of athletes.
- Select from two different stiffness levels. The medium stiff version of this brace is ideal for low impact activities. If you lift weights, get the extra stiff style brace instead.
- Machine washable. Reinforced stitching stops these braces from falling apart in the wash.
- Choose from several different colors and patterns. Available style options include black, blue, green, red, green camo and gray camo.
- Comes with free instructional videos. Professional bodybuilder Kevin Weiss explains how to do his favorite ab workouts, low carb diet basics and more.
- Lifetime guarantee. You can send these braces back to Rip Toned and get a full refund when you wear them out.
- May be too restrictive for some types of exercises. Even the medium stiff version of this wrist brace may be too stiff for yoga and other activities that require you to use your wrist’s full range of motion.
In a nutshell
This machine washable wrist brace is perfect for high impact sports like weightlifting. Few other wrist braces provide this much wrist support. The fact that you can select from two different stiffness levels is another key upside.
The best wrist brace for moderate wrist support
Dr. Arthritis Premium Copper Lined Wrist Support
If bulky wrists braces tend to get in your way or you find them difficult to use, this wrist brace from Dr. Arthritis may be worth a look. It provides a medium level of wrist support and protection and fits over the hand like a glove. Once you have this brace on, all you need to do is tighten the velcro strap with your other hand. You can loosen the brace easily as well, since there’s only one strap.
- Supports the wrist without restricting its motion. You may forget that you’re wearing a support brace when you have it on.
- Comfortable and easy to wear. Just slide it over your thumb with your other hand.
- Adjustable velcro strap. Use the velcro strap to add as much or as little tension as you desire.
- Copper lining blocks odors. The copper-coated nanoparticles embedded within the brace are proven to eliminate odors more effectively compared to carbon.
- Helps with a wide variety of wrist conditions. This wrist brace is suitable for people with moderate wrist arthritis, basal thumb arthritis, ganglion cysts and other similar conditions.
- Satisfaction guarantee. You can send this wrist brace back to Dr. Arthritis if you’re not fully satisfied with it.
- May not provide enough support for some. Because this brace lacks a rigid support structure, it won’t stop your wrist from bending.
- Not for people with large hands. You can adjust this brace’s velcro strap, but you can’t change the size of its thumb hole.
In a nutshell
Though other, larger wrist braces provide better rigidity, this one could be the best choice for people that only need a basic level of wrist support and protection. The fact that its fabric is thin enough to wear under a pair of working gloves is one of its main benefits.
The best wrist brace for TFCC tear-related wrist pain
WristWidget Patented Adjustable Wrist Brace
If you recently fell and landed on your palms, you may have sustained a TFCC (Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex) injury. TFCC tears are often painful and they can restrict your wrist’s range of motion, as well. This simple wrist brace from WristWidget provides an easy solution by mimicking the effects of sports tape. Since the WristWidget is more comfortable and easier to use, it could be just what you need to recover.
- Reduces wrist pain after a TFCC injury. This wrist brace is designed to help alleviate ulnar-sided wrist pain and facilitate faster TFCC tear recovery.
- Simple, low profile design. Small and discreet, this brace looks more like a bracelet than a wrist support.
- Fully adjustable. Use the velcro straps to increase or decrease the brace’s tightness.
- Choose from several different colors. Available colors include black, blue, red and white.
- Perform a simple test to determine if WristWidget is right for you. If the sports tape test doesn’t make your wrist feel better, WristWidget isn’t for you.
- Easy to put on and take off. Just wrap the brace around your the top of your ulna bone and apply the velcro straps to isolate your TFCC ligaments.
- Narrow use case. Since the WristWidget doesn’t provide much wrist protection, there’s no reason to wear it unless you’re recovering from a TFCC injury.
- Doesn’t fit very small wrists. The WristWidget is too small for children and adults with wrists that measure less than five inches around.
In a nutshell
If you have TFCC pain and you don’t want to wear a large wrist brace, the WristWidget could be your best option. It’s a unique, low-profile wrist brace that was specifically designed to meet the needs of people that are recovering from TFCC tears. Its twin velcro straps mimic the effects of sports tape.
Buying guide for wrist braces
Support vs. range of motion
Generally speaking, the more support a wrist brace provides, the more it restricts. Braces that accommodate the needs of carpal tunnel syndrome sufferers are designed to keep the wrist straight so that the median nerve can heal. Medical wrist braces for wrist surgery recovery do the same thing. Lightweight sports wrist braces allow for more flexibility, but also offer less support.
Comfort vs. durability
Some wrist braces are puffy and made from fabric that feels soft to the touch, but others are quite rough. Try to avoid purchasing a wrist brace that has lots of velcro straps if you plan on sleeping with it at night, since these can scratch and irritate your skin. Sports wrist braces are usually a bit more durable, but they’re typically not as comfortable.
Try to find a manufacturer that offers a generous return policy. After all, there’s no way to tell for sure if your wrist brace will fit if you buy one online– and you won’t know how it feels on your skin before it arrives at your doorstep, either.
Removable support rods let you make your wrist brace more or less rigid. If the support rod is made of metal, you can usually bend it to accommodate the shape of your arm. Take your support rod to your doctor if you have trouble doing this on your own.
People with very large or very small wrists may want to avoid “one size fits all” wrist braces. If the manufacturer offers several different size options, you’ll have a better chance of getting a comfortable fit. Measure the circumference of your wrist and try to find a wrist brace that matches your size.
If the fabric that it’s made from smells like chemicals or bothers your skin, you’ll dread putting it on and you may even stop wearing it before your wrist has fully healed. Consider any fabric sensitivities or allergies that you have before you buy.
Most wrist braces come with special cleaning instructions. You usually have to wash them by hand, which may be a hassle for some. If you don’t like the idea of waiting for your wrist brace to air dry, look for one that is rugged enough to be machine washed.
It’s not fun to wear a thick, hot wrist brace on a sweltering summer day. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to look for one that has features like air holes and moisture resistant fabric. Some wrist braces contain copper nanoparticles, which are scientifically proven to counteract odors. Materials with antimicrobial properties contain additives and pigments that repel germs.
Weightlifting wrist braces and glove-style braces that provide a moderate level of wrist support typically cost anywhere from $12 to $15.
For $20, you can find wrist braces that are slightly more rugged and come with features like reinforced stitching, removable support rods and anti-odor lining. You usually get a longer warranty and a more comprehensive satisfaction guarantee at this price range, as well.
Wrist supports and splints that cost $30 or more usually have unique patented features that you can’t find in other wrist braces. They also tend to be a bit more comfortable and easier to wear when you sleep.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What’s the best way to keep a wrist brace clean?
A: Most wrist braces aren’t meant to be machine washed. Hand washing your brace in cold water with mild detergent will help it last longer. Avoid using bleach or fabric softener, since these can sometimes damage a wrist brace’s materials. Rinse thoroughly in water after you’re finished cleaning it, and then let it air dry.
Q: Is it safe to wear a wrist brace at night?
A: Yes, and you should if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. If you bend your wrist when you sleep, you’ll put more pressure on your median nerve and make your condition even worse. IN addition, doctors sometimes advise people recovering from wrist surgery to wear a wrist brace to bed to aid the healing process. There are no significant risks, as long as you wear the brace properly and avoid tightening it to the point that it cuts off your circulation.
Q: Will health insurance cover the cost of my wrist brace?
A: Yes, if your health insurance plan covers durable medical goods. However, you may need a doctor’s prescription to qualify. Check with your insurance provider first before you buy.
- If your doctor tells you that you need to wear a wrist brace, do so consistently until it’s safe to stop relying on it. Some people make their conditions worse because they only wear their brace when they feel pain.
- If you’re using your wrist brace at the gym, don’t use it when you’re warming up or training with light weights. Relying too much on your wrist brace will stop you from developing your wrist flexor and extensor muscle groups.
- Some wrist braces are equipped with a removable metal support rod. You can bend the rod as needed to make your brace more comfortable. You may want to consider taking the rod to a physiotherapist for advice and assistance.
- If you plan on wearing a wrist brace for an extended amount of time, you may want to consider buying two of them. When one is drying out from being washed, you can wear the other.