Painful hand and wrist problems represent a distressingly common reason for missed work, accounting for more days of lost work than knee or shoulder injuries and falling second only to back injuries. In addition to acute injuries such as sprains and fractures, chronic wrist problems can prove debilitating and uncomfortable.
If you have just gotten over an acute wrist injury, need to recuperate safely from wrist surgery, or simply need support for a wrist troubled by chronic pain, you may find a wrist support invaluable for helping you go about your daily life. Before you run out and buy that support, however, think about the following four questions.
- What Kind of Wrist Problem Do You Have?
Wrist problems can assume many forms and many levels of severity. For instance, a fractured wrist typically needs complete immobilization for several weeks or even longer if the fracture underwent surgery. To protect the wrist and encourage healing in this kind of injury, look for the strongest, most rigid wrist splint available.
Other, less acute forms of wrist pain or damage may need minimal support. The osteoarthritis in your wrist, for example, may experience pain but not additional injury when you flex the wrist. Inflammatory soft tissue problems such as repetitive motion tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome may need only a light brace.
- Do You Actually Need a Thumb Support Instead of a Wrist Support?
Before you rush out to purchase a supportive device for your wrist pain, see your doctor first to determine whether your wrist pain actually originates in the wrist at all. Some painful wrist problems actually turn out to be painful thumb problems. DeQuervain’s syndrome, an inflammation of the thumb tendons, offers a case in point.
Have your doctor evaluate your hand and wrist to determine whether you need a wrist support or a thumb support. Some thumb braces fit over the hand like fingerless gloves to provide a little extra support. If your thumb needs to stay immobile for a while, you might need a splint that includes a rigid support called a spica.
- How Much Flexibility Do You Want From a Wrist Support?
As noted above, conditions such as wrist fractures usually call for a rigid wrist support that offers no range of motion in the wrist at all. However, if you merely need help with chronic wrist pain, you’ll find that many wrist supports allow you to move your fingers and thumb, while thumb splints permit full finger motion.
In fact, a properly fitted flexible wrist brace should actually improve your everyday productivity by allowing your hand to do more work in greater comfort.
- How Can You Get the Best Results From Your Wrist Support?
Whether you choose a rigid splint or a flexible sleeve-style brace, your thumb support can only help you to the extent that you use it properly. First and foremost, wear your thumb support only as long as medically recommended. You can wear a brace as a long-term support, using a splint only for short-term injury recuperation.
Some people make the mistake of simply not wearing a prescribed wrist support. You might get annoyed at a support that feels overly bulky or uncomfortable and avoid wearing it at all. Alternatively, you might feel the urge to wear your wrist support only when your wrist actually hurts.
These errors can cause you to receive little to no benefit from your wrist support. Ask your doctor, orthopedic surgeon, or physical therapist how many weeks or months (and how many hours a day) you should wear your wrist support, following their advice carefully to ensure optimal healing and protection.
Whatever kind of wrist support your doctor recommends, you’ll find it at Corner Home Medical. Check out our full range of braces and other supportive devices.