Rigid Hand Brace and Wrist Splints – Reviewed by Doctors

Human hand with a wrist braceRigid immobilizing braces will cause muscle atrophy, muscle imbalance, and can injure the soft tissue of the hand, wrist and forearm where the splint is regularly in contact with the body.   Examples of soft tissue that can readily be injured with constant contact from a rigid device are: muscle, fascia tissue, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and nerves. These are the connective and sensory tissues that cushion, link and control the 27 bones of the hand and wrist together and allow seamless dexterity, muscle control and movement without pain.   Issues with fingers such as dexterity loss and stiffness of the fingers are also not uncommon.

Most people find that rigid braces and wrist splints are uncomfortable, restrictive, embarrassing to wear and annoying for bed partners to put up with.   However, the biggest problem is they offer no therapeutic action for treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and should only be used in a couple of situations in conjunction with CTS. These situations are:

  • When consistently lifting heavy objects at work, a rigid brace can allow a person to absorb the stress with the forearm and not the wrist.
  • If a person curls their wrist significantly during sleep and presses the back of the hand up against their chest area in the fetal type position, this can cause stress on the wrist and aggravate Carpal Tunnel.

It is best to retrain yourself to sleep in a different position if possible. Have a family member or bed partner observe you when sleeping and strive to pillows or positions that prevent you from bending your wrist in an aggressive way. If you cannot retrain yourself from this sleep habit, then you may have to use a splint loosely attached at night during sleep.   This is a last resort and should be avoided if possible.

Generally, instead of offering a method for improvement of this frustrating and chronic condition, these rigid devices make the syndrome worse in the long run.   Other than the two situations described above, Rigid Hand Braces and Rigid Wrist Braces should be avoided for the Treatment of CT Syndrome.

Learn More about Carpal Tunnel Treatment from Doctors