Repetitive strain injuries come in many forms and flavours, but they do have a few things in common. One, they can be irritating and impair movement. Two, they develop due to repetitive motion (often combined with poor hand posture). And three, your recovery from this type of injury will benefit quite a bit from a wrist brace. Here's why.
Anatomy of a repetitive strain injury
Repetitive wrist strain injuries come in three forms. These include:
- Carpal tunnel. Here, the sheath containing the median nerve gets compressed by surrounding tissues. The nerve runs through your wrist into your thumb and index, ring, and middle fingers. Hence, you may experience tingling, numbness, and pain shooting through those areas (and sometimes up the arm as well).
- Tendonitis. Wrist tendonitis involves the wrist tendons developing micro tears over time, leading to inflammation. You'll generally get some redness, tenderness, stiffness, and pain around the affected area. Depending on its severity and the tendons affected, you may also have a bit of trouble moving your fingers to their full extent.
- Bursitis. The sacs containing synovial fluid (which lubricates the joints) inflame. With bursitis, you’ll generally get swelling, redness, restricted movement, and aches when you try to move the wrist.
As we mentioned, these injuries develop from repetitive motion and poor wrist posture. In some cases, you can get them while playing sports requiring a lot of wrist movements, like tennis or volleyball. But unfortunately, you can also develop these injuries when doing everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, and even typing on a keyboard.
Why a wrist brace is important
As repetitive injuries often come with inflammation and pain that flares up during movement, a wrist brace will be a great help in recovery.
A good wrist brace reduces inflammation
Swelling is your body’s first response to an injury. And while some swelling is normal (and beneficial) as it means your body is rapidly transporting oxygen and nutrients to the affected area, our bodies sometimes go overboard and actually hinder the delivery process.
Where quality braces like our ManuTrain help is they incorporate medical-grade compression. In more technical terms, this type of fabric works by gradually compressing the affected area, which combats swelling by:
- Lowering the production of edemas, which are your body’s inflammatory agents
- And gently squeezing built-up fluid out of the joint, allowing oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to flow more easily into injured tissues.
Supports your wrist through movement
It makes sense that rest is one of the first recommendations for treating an injury stemming from too much movement. But considering how much we need to use our hands in everyday life, resting them for too long isn’t exactly viable. Not to mention, movement is a fundamental step in injury recovery. Put simply, not using your wrist or hands for an extended period will weaken and stiffen the tissues there, extending the recovery process and potentially worsening your symptoms and increasing the likelihood of re-injury.
And here is where braces come in handy. The ManuTrain, for example, combines compression knit with an adjustable wrist strap. The knit works by stimulating the muscles and improving how your body activates them, thus helping them better support your injured tendon, inflamed bursae, or pinched nerve. The wrist strap, meanwhile, provides external support to the wrist joint itself.
Rigid braces like the ManuLoc, however, work a little differently, as they’re designed for more severe cases of tendonitis and carpal tunnel. You’ll still be able to move your hand as normal, but the brace’s system of anatomical stays and adjustable straps will provide increased support for the wrist as it recovers.
When it comes to pain relief, braces help in two key ways:
- They support the wrist, reducing strain on the injury and thus the pain that often comes with it.
- Some braces have compression knit and gel padding, which actively relieve pain by reducing pressure on injured nerves and massaging surrounding tissues as you move.
And most importantly, by relieving the worst of your painful symptoms, they’ll help you get moving again. The stronger and more flexible your hand and wrist are, the less strain your injured tissues will need to put up with, and the easier it will be for you to go about your day without pain.
Other key steps to take
While a quality wrist brace can do a lot of good, it shouldn’t be your only focus. As we noted in our wrist pain article, you’ll need to brace in conjunction with:
- PRICE (that being protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Braces cover the P and C, but you should apply the other steps for the first 2-3 days after you notice symptoms.
- Exercise. You’ll need to work on your wrist strength and flexibility to help you recover and avoid re-injury. We recommend doing simple exercises like resisted wrist flexion and extension and any others your physio recommends.
- Don’t jump back in too quickly. Improper and incomplete treatment are the key causes of re-injury. So even if you feel your wrist is back to normal, we advise you to consult your clinician before taking off your brace for good or cutting down on your exercise plan.
- Think holistically and ergonomically. Your wrists can put up with a lot, but they’re still pretty sensitive. Poor joint positioning on the court, weakness and instability while lifting heavy pans, and even working without a decent mouse pad can damage delicate structures.
To sum up
Because of their ability to support the wrist, reduce swelling, and relieve pain, wrist braces make great companions for repetitive strain injuries. However, you should keep in mind that not all wrist braces are made equal. And while they can do a lot, you'll need to take some extra steps.
See our collection of wrist braces: Bauerfeind Wrist Supports
If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.
Do you have private health? Most private health extras will cover Bauerfeind Products, check to see if yours is included. Bauerfeind Private Health Insurance Inquiry.