Compression Gear for Carpal Tunnel
What is Carpal Tunnel?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of localized peripheral neuropathy affecting the hands.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of the wrist. When the median nerve within the tunnel becomes compressed, it can cause numbness, tingling, and pain referred to as carpal tunnel syndrome.
The median nerve runs through the carpal tunnel from the forearm to the wrist and is responsible for providing sensation to the palm side of the hand and movement to the muscles around the base of the thumb. Any pressure or irritation to this nerve can result in carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome typically comes on gradually over time as irritation to the median nerve builds. The most common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Tingling or numbness: The most tell-tale sign of carpal tunnel syndrome is intermittent tingling or numbness in the thumb, index, middle, and/or ring fingers. You may also experience sharp, shooting pain from the wrist up your arm. As the syndrome progresses, these sensations may become constant.
- Weakness: Because the median nerve also controls the muscles around your thumb, carpal tunnel syndrome can also result in a weakening of these muscles and difficulty gripping objects.
While anyone can develop carpal tunnel syndrome, there are a few risk factors that may increase your likelihood of getting it:
- Anatomy: People with naturally smaller carpal tunnels may have an increased chance of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Damage or Disease: Previous wrist breaks or fractures or conditions like arthritis can contribute to bone and joint deformation or inflammation, making it easier for the median nerve to become compressed.
- Sex: Because women’s carpal tunnels are typically smaller than men’s, women are more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Obesity: Being obese can increase your chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome because of increased pressure on the carpal tunnel and median nerve.
- Fluid retention: Both chronic and acute conditions that cause fluid retention can increase the chances of carpal tunnel syndrome. For this reason, women can be more prone to the condition during pregnancy and menopause.
- Environmental Factors: Any work that requires repetitive wrist movements, such as working with certain tools or spending all day on a computer can increase the chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome is usually conservative. In the early stages of the syndrome it’s best to take frequent breaks from any activities that stress your hands or wrists, use cold packs to reduce swelling, and take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain.
Other treatments include:
- Treating underlying conditions: If a condition like arthritis or diabetes is causing inflammation or nerve damage, managing these conditions can help reduce symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Corticosteroids: Steroid injections are a very effective way to reduce inflammation and swelling in the carpal tunnel and median nerve.
- Wrist splinting: A splint or brace that holds your wrist in place, either overnight or during the day, can help to relieve the symptoms of carpal tunnel.
- Surgery: If your symptoms are severe and conservative treatments do not help, surgery may be required. Carpal tunnel surgery typically involves cutting the ligaments that are pressing on the median nerve.
The Role of Compression in Carpal Tunnel Treatment
While wrist splinting is just one of many treatment options for carpal tunnel syndrome, it is usually the first line of defense when symptoms appear. Wrist braces, wrist sleeves, and even compression gloves can help treat the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome in two ways: (1) improving circulation and reducing swelling in the hands, wrists and arms and (2) immobilizing the wrist to allow for healing.
The first benefit stems from the improved circulation produced by compression products. Compression wrist sleeves are designed to create either targeted or graduated pressure from the wrist up through the forearm to improve blood flow toward the heart. This, in turn, prevents blood from pooling in the wrists and hands.
By facilitating efficient circulation, compression wrist sleeves can reduce swelling and inflammation and prevent pressure from building up on the carpal tunnel and median nerve. This is a great way to both prevent carpal tunnel in those prone to developing the condition and to treat symptoms in existing cases.
While less effective as a true treatment method, some carpal tunnel sufferers also find compression gloves helpful in reducing pain and swelling in the hands and fingers.
The second benefit is more carpal tunnel specific. One of the most common treatment options for the condition is to wear a brace to immobilize your wrist. Wearing a brace or splint while you sleep at night can be particularly effective. This is because it’s most difficult to control your wrist movements while you sleep, which means symptoms are often worse in the middle of the night or upon waking.
By keeping your wrist stable at night, you can often stop symptoms before they start. Splinting can also be very effective throughout the day, especially if your job or daily activities involve a lot of wrist movement or stress.
For these reasons, compression sleeves and gloves and more constrictive wrist braces may be used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. To help you find the right products, we’ve compiled a lot of the best compression products for treating carpal tunnel syndrome.
The Best Compression Products for Carpal Tunnel
- Overall: Mueller Green Fitted Wrist Brace
- Night Brace: ComfyBrace Night Wrist Sleep Support Brace
- Wrist Sleeve: WYLLIELAB Wrist Brace
- Gloves: Copper Compression Arthritis Gloves
Best Overall: Mueller Green Fitted Wrist Brace
Mueller’s fitted wrist brace is one of the best products on the market for carpal tunnel syndrome. The brace comes in two sizes, both left and right orientation, and has an adjustable strap to provide optimum, personalized compression and support. The lightweight material keeps it breathable and comfortable even on hot days, and its antimicrobial material helps prevent odor. Users are almost unanimous that this brace is a wonderful choice for anyone suffering from the painful or debilitating symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Best Night Brace: ComfyBrace Night Wrist Sleep Support Brace
ComfyBrace’s name says it all. This wrist brace offers ideal night wrist support for carpal tunnel sufferers while maximizing comfort so it never disrupts your sleep. With
Best Wrist Sleeve: WYLLIELAB Wrist Brace
For wrist pain from carpal tunnel syndrome, WYLLIELAB’s wrist brace is a wonderful choice. The brace is ergonomically designed to provide the right amount of support without putting uncomfortable pressure on your thumb. This brace is made from high quality materials and can be adjusted to the optimal compression level. It is durable and can be worn all day to manage pain and help with mobility.
Best Gloves: Copper Compression Arthritis Gloves
Copper compression is reliable brand in compression, and these gloves are an excellent resource in their high quality line up. For carpal tunnel pain focused in the hands, these gloves are a great option. While they are billed as arthritis gloves, carpal tunnel suffers can enjoy the same benefits of reduced swelling and warmth to treat their pain. The gloves come in sizes S to XL so, with proper measurement, you are sure to find a size that fits and works for you.
What is Compression Gear?
At the most basic level, compression gear is a category of clothing and other accessories designed to fit tightly around the skin.
Compression gear has a wide variety of applications including, medical, fitness, and personal uses such as fashion and travel, and continues to grow in popularity as athletes, doctors, patients, and regular people find more creative ways to benefit from these products.
Read our What is Compression Gear? article to get a bigger picture of the role compression gear plays in Fitness, Health, Travel, Fashion, how compression works, and what its benefits are.