Most people with carpal tunnel syndrome have mild or moderate symptoms that don’t require treatment. Avoiding too much stress on the wrist and wearing a carpal tunnel splint is usually enough to provide relief.
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes numbness, tingling and pain and can sometimes make it difficult to move the thumb or the first two fingers properly. This is due to too much pressure on the median nerve that runs through the carpal tunnel in your wrist. Sometimes the symptoms may disappear without any treatment. If they don’t, you may need to wear a wrist splint or undergo carpal tunnel syndrome surgery.
What is a Carpal Tunnel Splint?
A carpal tunnel splint looks like a fingerless glove. It is worn on the wrist to stabilise it in a straight or sometimes slightly bent-back position. Wearing a splint helps minimise pressure on the median nerve allowing you a period of relative rest from repetitive movements that could worsen the symptoms. There are a few things you need to keep in mind when wearing a wrist splint for carpal tunnel:
- A splint will help alleviate pain and pressure on the median nerve when worn to stabilise the wrist, especially during sleep.
- A carpal tunnel splint is not a substitute for proper body mechanics and good workplace design.
- A wrist splint is a short-term treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. Long-term use can cause the muscles to weaken, so it’s advisable to exercise and practice hand and wrist movements after removing the splint, following the guidance of your doctor.
How Does a Carpal Tunnel Splint Help?
Most people with mild or moderate symptoms only need to wear a splint at night for a few weeks. The splint works by holding the joint in a neutral position. Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms usually worsen at night since you are more likely to bend your hand during sleep. A splint helps keep the hand stable to prevent bending, helping you to sleep with carpal tunnel. Moving the joint during the day is important to prevent stiffening and muscle weakening. In that case, you can use a support bandage rather than a splint.
Wearing a splint will improve your symptoms within a few weeks, but this is usually temporary. For some people, splints don’t help, or the symptoms return in a few weeks. Wearing a splint for the first time and sleeping with it may feel awkward, but you will get used to it. You might experience occasional tingling, numbness or a swollen feeling after removing the splint in the morning.
While it’s recommended to wear the splint at night to prevent the wrist from bending, you can also wear it during the day, especially when completing repetitive activities likely to aggravate the symptoms.
What Materials are Best for a Carpal Tunnel Splint?
It all comes down to your personal preferences. However, it’s always advisable to go for lightweight and breathable materials, especially if you’ll be wearing the splint for long periods. Breathable materials help prevent sweating and odours. At the same time, if you suffer from allergies, be careful with the material composition since some splints include latex materials. Your doctor will advise on the most appropriate splint for you.
Carpal Tunnel Splint UK
If you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, wearing a splint may help alleviate the symptoms before considering other treatment options. At the same time, if you’ve had carpal tunnel syndrome surgery, you may need to wear a splint to stabilise the hand and maximise recovery.
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