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Finding Relief from Carpal Tunnel

  • Category: Hand & Wrist
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Dr. Nicholas Rose and Dr. Joanne Zhang
Finding Relief from Carpal Tunnel

Using a brace to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms can be very beneficial. We spoke with HOI orthopedic hand and wrist surgeon, Dr. Nicholas Rose and Dr. Joanne Zhang, to get their expertise on the use of braces for this common wrist condition, as well as other ways to fix carpal tunnel.

Q: How do wrist braces help carpal tunnel?

Dr. Rose: Many people sleep with their wrists in a flexed (bent downward) position. This places pressure on the median nerve in the carpal tunnel and therefore increases symptoms. This is why patients with carpal tunnel syndrome often wake up at night with numbness and tingling in their hand. Carpal tunnel symptoms are usually worse at night. A brace helps carpal tunnel symptoms because it keeps your wrist in a straight, neutral position, relieving pressure on the nerve. It basically gives your median nerve a 7-8 hour break every night.

Q: How long should someone wear a carpal tunnel brace?

Dr. Zhang: Wrist braces work primarily by limiting wrist movement during sleep and activities that aggravate CTS symptoms. Wear the brace either during sleep or only during specific activities that worsen your CTS symptoms. Wearing your brace all the time can stiffen and weaken your wrist.

Q: What should someone look for in a wrist brace for carpal tunnel?

Dr. Rose: Neoprene braces typically are the most comfortable, but they should have an internal metal strut to keep the wrist in a straight position. The brace should be comfortable and lightweight. It does not need to be strapped on tight (a common mistake) so long as it holds the wrist in a straight position.

Q: Are there any wrist braces you recommend, and if so, why?

Dr. Rose: I often recommend the Fururo wrist brace because it’s readily available to patients in most stores and easy to find.

Q:  What are the best carpal tunnel treatments?

Dr. Zhang: The most effective approach to treat CTS depends on severity of the condition. Mild to moderate cases often respond well to non-surgical treatments like wrist braces, ergonomic adjustments, activity modification, and physical therapy. In more severe cases where symptoms persist or worsen, carpal tunnel release surgery might be necessary to relieve pressure on the median nerve.

Q: How long does it take to fix carpal tunnel?

Dr. Zhang: Recovery times for carpal tunnel release surgery vary, but patients typically experience relief shortly after surgery, with some improvement within a few weeks and a full recovery within a few months. It can take up to a year for complete healing and restoration of strength and sensation depending on how severe CTS symptoms were before surgery.