Your wrist and hand are crucial for daily life and when you are injured or in pain, it can be overwhelming to navigate the extensive number of supports and braces available.
While this guide does go into a lot of detail, we have designed it to be easy to use for everyone, so keep it on hand if you have issues with your hand or wrist.
- Anatomy of the wrist and hand
- Types of braces
- Indication guide
Anatomy of the hand and wrist
Your hand and wrist form a complex section of your body. With 27 bones, numerous ligaments, tendons, and other muscles, it is dynamic enough to perform the wide range of movements needed for daily life.
This whole area can be divided into several different parts:
- The phalanges, commonly known as your fingers and thumbs, responsible for fine motor skills.
- The metacarpal region, which is the middle of your hand. Your palm covers this area and it acts as the foundation of any hand movement.
- The carpal bones, commonly known as the wrist, which joins your hand to your arm and guides movement.
Below is an outline of the anatomy of the wrist.
Tendons: These are flexible rope-like cords of connective tissue that join muscle to bone. They run along your hand from the tip of your fingers to your wrist, and mainly function to move the fingers.
Ligaments: Ligaments are bands of fibrous tissue that join bone to bone. While your hand has many bones, none of them are particularly large which means you have many smaller ligaments throughout the hand. They act to stabilise the joints and keep the bones moving in the right direction.
Bones: There are 27 bones in the hand and wrist, and they are split into three main sections. The interaction of bone and muscle in this area is one of the most complex in your entire body. Individually, these bones allow for complex finer movements while also working together for stronger broader movements.
Wrist braces and the injuries they treat.
Whether it is a strained tendon, ruptured ligament, fractured bone, or an issue affecting the nerves, wearing the right brace or support can assist with symptom management, treatment and protecting against reinjury.
The support you select will depend on a few different factors including the injury or condition, your general health, lifestyle, and issues affecting other parts of your arm.
Brace type: Sleeve
Wrist sleeves cover the joint, they usually extend up to the top of the palm and down around a quarter of the way to your elbow.
Sleeves are often made from neoprene or elasticised polyester however higher quality sleeves use breathable materials which are much more comfortable to wear during warmer weather or for a prolonged period of time.
A wrist sleeve can range in complexity, sometimes as basic as a piece of fabric which covers the wrist. All the way to an anatomical fit with removable stays and adjustable strapping.
The main purpose of a wrist sleeve is to provide compression across the joint, which minimises swelling and pain, and to provide mild stability to the joint itself.
This type of brace is designed to allow the hand to still be used and they are most suitable for all day wear.
Some of the primary injuries and issues that sleeves are most suitable for are:
- Mild to moderate wrist pain
- Mild arthritis
- Mild instability
- Long-term post-op recovery from ligament and tendon damage
- Mild nerve issues
- Mild to moderate tendinitis
When looking for a good wrist sleeve, follow the below tips.
- Comfortable anatomic fit: A good sleeve should conform to the shape of your wrist, arm and hand and stay flush against the skin with minimal bulging through all ranges of movement.
- Sizing system: Check to see if there is an extensive sizing system that caters to your wrist and surrounding anatomy. Generic sizing systems offering one size fits all or a small/medium/large may not provide the comfort and desired therapeutic benefit.
- Medical grade compression: Rather than just being firm fitting, the ideal compression is medical grade as it provides support to the whole joint while giving strength back to the wrist.
- Breathable cool material: Wearing a sleeve all day can have great benefits, but if it keeps overheating and getting sweaty, itchy, and stuffy then it’s not going to be comfortable.
- Massaging and soothing: A sleeve with gel support, to minimises tension in the muscles and soothe pain, is a huge bonus.
The ManuTrain Wrist Support is an ideal sleeve, combining medical grade compression and gel support with a strap to allow for adjustable levels of support.
Brace type: Splint
Wrist splints are the next step up from a sleeve, designed to provide partial or full immobilisation of the wrist joint.
Often incorporating the core build of a sleeve, a splint contains rigid components which run along from the forearm below the wrist, up past to the centre of the hand. The rigid components are made from hard plastic or a lightweight metal alloy.
Strapping is ideal as it allows for the support to be adjusted throughout the recovery of your wrist.
Splints provide two primary functions depending on their design. Basic splints emulate a “half cast” design, which covers one part of the wrist to prevent movement in that direction.
More advanced splints provide adjustable rigidity along the whole joint, not only restricting potentially harmful movement but also unloading the joint to alleviate internal pressure on nerves and bones.
Splints and unloading wrist support are ideal for the following conditions:
- Moderate wrist pain
- Moderate to severe arthritis
- Nerve pain
- Post-op recovery
- Moderate to severe tendinitis
When selecting a splint, these are some key things to look for.
- Comfortable anatomic fit: A good wrist splint should comfortably sit on your wrist without any bulky or protruding parts. If it has excessive pressure on any one part of your wrist, look for something more well-fitting.
- Sizing system: Check to see if there is an extensive sizing system that caters to your wrist. Generic sizing systems offering one size fits all or a small/medium/large may not provide the comfort and desired therapeutic benefit.
- Breathable lightweight design: A wrist splint that still allows air to circulate over the skin helps recovery of the wrist and a lightweight construction means you can get on with your daily activities with minimal interruption.
- Targeted restriction: A wrist splint should comfortably allow your fingers and thumbs to move as normal, and allow for slight movement of your muscles and tendons. If it completely locks your wrist and hand, then you are at wrist of muscle wastage.
The ManuLoc Wrist Support is virtually the best wrist splint you can get. With lightweight alloy splints housed in comfortable soft fabric, adjustable strapping along the back of the wrist and a breathable design, it is ideal for a wide range of injuries, issues and conditions.
Brace type: Digit splint
Your thumbs and fingers (collectively known as your digits) might seem to move independently, but they all stretch down to your wrist connected by tendons and ligaments.
When they are injured, it is important to immobilise them to allow for recovery. Most splints are made from a simple lightweight fabric with a rigid component, with some including strapping or Velcro to allow for adjustability.
Digit splints are ideal for the following conditions:
- Tendinitis of the thumb
- Jarred digits
- Nerve issues
When selecting a digit splint, there are a couple of key things to look for:
- Slim fit: Any splint should keep the targeted digit supported and stabilised while still allowing for free movement of the rest of the hand.
- Comfort design: If your finger or thumb is in pain, a support should alleviate that. If it is causing undue pressure or pain, ditch it for something better.
While finger splints are quite uncommon, thumb splints are often used due to the thumb’s interaction with the wrist. The RhizoLoc Thumb Splint is a lightweight adjustable splint perfect for most conditions affecting the thumb.
Brace type: Combined wrist brace
The hand and wrist are made up of several main areas and they can be affected as a whole, or independently.
While most wrist braces target just one part of the wrist, a ‘combined support’ is able to target multiple areas to provide a more effective overall solution.
These supports most commonly integrate the same construction as a wrist splint and a sleeve, and can also incorporate digit splints, palm stays and more.
The main conditions a combined support is ideal for are:
- Severe arthritis
- Chronic nerve issues
- Moderate to severe instability
- Spasticity, weakness, or contracture
- Severe or multiple fractures
- Post-op recovery
When you are selecting a combined brace, it is essential you find the right one to ensure you’re taking care of your condition, whether it’s injury recovery or management of a chronic issue. Here are some tips.
- Comfortable anatomic fit: A well-made combined brace should comfortably sit on your wrist and hand without any bulky or protruding parts.
- Sizing system: Look for an extensive sizing system that caters to your wrist and surrounding anatomy. Generic sizing systems offering one size fits all or a small/medium/large may not provide the comfort and desired therapeutic benefit.
- Breathable lightweight design: Being made from a lightweight construction means you can get on with your daily activities with minimal interruption.
- Adjustability: When needing stabilisation of multiple parts of your wrist and hand, it is essential that you can easily change the support and immobilisation of the support from day to day to suit you at any given point.
When looking at combined braces, you cannot go past the ManuLoc Rhizo. Combining the best in support, stability, adjustability, and comfort, it’s perfect for recovery, management and rehab.
Brace type: Wrist strap
Wrist straps are not technically a brace, but rather a mild support. They are usually made from neoprene or elastic polyester, with more effective straps having a more rigid material adjusted by strapping or Velcro.
These are normally quite small and simple, and cover the wrist joint itself and no other part of the arm or hand.
While they are simple, there are a range of conditions which they are ideal for treating, including:
- Mild instability
- Mild tendinitis
- Early indications of arthritis
- Recovery from mild injury
Looking for the right wrist strap is fairly simple, but it is still worth looking for a couple of key things.
- Breathable cool material: Wearing a strap can have great benefits, but if it keeps overheating and getting sweaty, itchy and stuffy then it’s not going to help. Make sure it is something that you can play sports or work in comfortably.
- Stabilising: The strap should unload the wrist slightly, stabilising the joint and alleviating most of the pain.
The Sports Wrist strap is a lightweight breathable strap that is easy to adjust, exercise and work in.
There are a wide range of conditions which affect the wrist, from nerve issues caused by strokes to tendinitis from repetitive strain. Whatever the issue, it is crucial to get the right support for your wrist.
Below are some of the more common issues affecting the wrist and hand, as well as what is most effective Bauerfeind Wrist Brace. If you cannot find your condition, or you would like more help, please give our office a call and one of our trained staff will help you find the right product for you.
Ligament Injury: Mild
Ligament Injury: Moderate
Ligament Injury: Severe
Extension wrist tendonitis
Flexion wrist tendonitis
De Quervain's Tenosynovitis
Fracture: Severe (Compound)
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Synovitis of the wrist