Adjusting A Wrist Brace Properly

By Tom Nicholson

Whatever reason you're wearing a wrist brace for, there are some general bits of advice you should follow in getting the maximum benefit out of them.

First, make sure your wrist brace is the right size; ones you can buy at the drug store are usually specified as child, small, medium, large and extra large. These are generally measured by the circumference of the wrist they're designed to go around and have a palm rest and a forearm length based on the average sized individual with that sized wrist. For 95% of people in the world, those wrist brace sizes are the right size. In cases where they aren't the right size, it's usually that they're too small when wrapped around the forearm.

Second, make sure that you're tightening them in a manner appropriate for your injury. Wrist braces give their benefit by keeping you from accidentally flexing your wrist in a way that would further your injury. The type of injury you have will determine which axis of rotation your wrist needs immobilization in.

If the wrist brace is used to fight tendonitis then it should be tightened to stop lateral movement of the wrist. By holding your hand out straight from your wrist, the plane is outlined by your thumb and pinkie should be the area that your wrist's motion is confined within.

If you are dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome, you should limit the movement of your wrist from not bending downward whatsoever and upward by only a few degrees. You should make sure that you have appropriate padding in your wrist brace when managing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Wrist braces set up to immobilize the wrist for a sprain need to completely immobilize it in both planes of movement, and usually need to cover more of the upper forearm as well, since that's where the ligaments that control wrist motion run, and may resemble Ace bandages more than a conventional wrist brace.

Keeping yourself comfortable in a wrist brace means that you should look for things on the inside surface, like seams or loose threads, that might cause skin irritation. Some people recommend wrapping the hand and wrist and lower forearm lightly in gauze before putting a wrist brace on; this functions much the same way that your sock does in your shoe - it absorbs the sweat and keeps the seams of the brace from rubbing your skin and irritating you. Wash your wrist brace about twice a week; most can be run through a washer or dryer without risk.

Don't over tighten your wrist brace. It should be snug, but should not constrict the blood flow to the wrist or hand. There's a temptation in a lot of people to run the straps as tight as they can go. Put it on, tighten it up and do some routine work, then loosen appropriately. (As a hint, use a sharpie marker to write how tight the straps should go once you've figured this out.) - 30540

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