If you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, you have lots of decisions to make about how to treat your symptoms. The more you know about your carpal tunnel symptoms the better your results will be. If you educate yourself, you will get better more quickly than someone who just blindly follows the directions of another person who might not know your body as well as you do!
Are you wondering whether you should wear a splint or wrist brace for your carpal tunnel symptoms? Or, have you been wearing a wrist brace but need a little more information?
When you break a bone, it often needs to be splinted to prevent movement so the bone can heal. That works very well for bones. It's what they need.
However, muscles are not like bones.
Muscles need to move.
Muscles need movement to be healthy. If they don't move, they become unhappy and ache.
Muscle movement keeps your fluids--blood and lymph--moving. When your body fluids move, they transport metabolic (body) wastes away from your wrist. Your body fluids also supply healing nutrients to your tissues, so when they are moving, your carpal tunnel benefits.
A tight brace, or bracelet or watch band, will prevent fluids from bringing nutrients into your hand and wrist area. This isn't good. And, if you use a brace, other muscles will try to take over the work of the muscles that can't move (because of the brace.) That can cause muscle strain in your elbow or shoulder. So, should you use a wrist brace?
There may be times when you feel it is really helpful or necessary. For instance, if you wake up with your hands all curled up and are in pain, a wrist brace while you are sleeping will help you keep your wrists from bending. If you wear the brace loosely, so your body fluids can keep moving, and you can still get some slight movement in your muscles, that might help you wake with less pain. But, here is the question: Is it possible that there is a reason your hands curl up when you sleep? Your muscles do get into "habits."
Could it be that the muscles on the palm side of your lower arms and the palm side of your hands and fingers are in contraction (short)? If so, perhaps massaging your lower arms and palms would help more than the brace would. Massage can be done daily. You can do it yourself.
What about wearing a wrist brace during the day?
If you tend to flex your wrists while you are working or playing, and it causes discomfort or symptoms in your carpal tunnel area, you might feel that wearing a brace is the answer. Maybe it is.
Or, perhaps, a better solution would be to redesign your workspace. Reposition your equipment, table, desk, chair or footrest so that you don't have to work with your wrist curled, tilted or bent.
Lots of times we do things in a certain way regardless of what our body would prefer. You might be doing things that cause pain without even realizing that you are. I know that has happened to me, and then I think, Who told me That was a good idea?
We humans sometimes do things like that. We are so busy thinking, typing, working, or whatever--our brains get so involved--that we sometimes forget to pay attention to our body until it starts to scream at us. Including, of course, your carpal tunnel. It can scream pretty loud.
So, what's another possible solution besides wearing a wrist brace?
Proper ergonomics (body positioning) will let you work comfortably with all of your body parts in the most neutral positions so you can work without pain at your desk, table or computer.
Remember, removing the cause of your carpal tunnel symptoms is much better than just treating symptoms. If you get rid of the cause, your symptoms won't come back. And, that's a good thing!