Wrist pain — whether caused by carpal tunnel, arthritis, tendinitis or injury — is all too prominent a problem, especially as we age. Consider the fact that one in four adults suffer from arthritis alone and the problem begins to crystallize.
If wrist pain is causing issues during everyday activities, such as typing, an over-the-counter brace can offer good short-term relief, according to experts we consulted (it’s always important to speak to a doctor about any wrist pain or issues). “The duration for wearing a brace depends on the nature and severity of the injury, as well as the recommendations provided by a healthcare professional,” says Dr. Jeremy Denning, board-certified neurosurgeon.
To find the best wrist braces out there among the hundreds of options, we spoke with five experts (from orthopedic surgeons to physical therapists) for guidance on what to look for — from material to what features offer the most support, along with which style of brace is best for various conditions. “When we choose braces for our patients, we look for a product that provides the appropriate level of compression based on their individual needs,” says Don Levine, PT, DPT.
Using the experts' guidance, we researched more than two dozen top-rated braces and personally tested a few ourselves to guide you to the best for your needs.
Cons: not interchangeable to wear on either wrist, extended sizes not available
We love theMueller Sports Medicine Green Fitted Wrist Brace for so many reasons (including glowing Amazon reviews) that it easily won best overall in our book. For starters, Mueller is a leading brand in the sports medicine arena that you can trust to use high-quality materials in all its products — this one incorporates recycled materials in the design. The brace is designed with each arm in mind, ensuring an ergonomic fit. (Be sure you're ordering for either your right, shown, or left wrist). The contoured rigid stay on the palm provides added support and stability, while two Velcro straps allow you to adjust the amount of compression and overall fit. It's also thin enough to wear under clothing and allows for full range of motion in your thumb and fingers so you can still do most daily activities. Even though the brace was designed to alleviate pain and discomfort caused by conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), tendonitis, minor injuries and arthritis, it is also great for preventive use to ward off injuries, such as during roller skating, skateboarding and other strenuous activities.
The Mueller wrist brace first came to our attention after a personal doctor recommendation to aid arthritis pain. A year on, it's still our go-to brace. The brace has never felt too tight or warm when worn for extended periods, thanks to the soft and breathable mesh outer shell.
Sizes available: one size fits all (fits both left and right wrists) |Material: 65% neoprene, 35% nylon; copper-lined
Pros: great for daytime wear, full range of motion for wear during sports, works well for many wrist conditions
Cons: may not offer enough support for some, not a full arm brace
We found that the Dr. Arthritis Copper Wrist Brace has better durability than any other we personally used — the Velcro is still going strong after multiple machine washes — which can likely be credited to the extra-strong double stitching. What sets this brace apart from the Mueller brace and others on this list: This is not a wrist splint but rather a wrist-wrap-style brace. So, while it does not offer the support of full palm-to-midarm coverage, it does provide just enough support and compression to help with CTS and arthritis flare-ups, thumb arthritis, tendonitis or tendinopathy, ganglion cyst or wrist strain. The soft, breathable copper-lined neoprene and nylon fabric is perfect for daytime use without the fear of getting too hot and uncomfortable.
For the sports lover, the brace allows for full range of motion and can be worn on the pickleball court, on the golf course and even at the bowling alley. Another cool feature of the Dr. Arthritisbrace is the doctor-written booklet that comes with each order outlining your injury or condition, tips for recovery and preventive measures to avoid future injuries. The customer service is great too, with questions answered within 24 hours by a team that includes medical doctors. There's also a 100% money-back guarantee that you will love it or get a full refund.
Pros: unisex, very supportive, customizable compression
Cons: not interchangeable between left and right wrist, may be too rigid for some
The unisex Featol Wrist Brace for Carpal Tunnel offers unparalleled support and compression thanks to a removable aluminum palmar stay and two fixed plastic splints. The brace is supportive enough for severe cases of CTS as well as basal thumb arthritis, tendonitis or tendinopathy, ganglion cyst, sprain, and strain, along with preventive support. Three adjustable Velcro straps with a hook and loop closure provide comfortable customizable compression and stability. The brace is also designed to be worn on either the right arm (shown here) or left arm — so be sure you purchase the brace for the correct arm. To add to the customizable comfort, if the brace feels too rigid for sleep, simply remove the aluminum stay for uninterrupted rest.
With more than 23,000 five-star reviews, we're not the only ones who think this brace is a great choice for CTS and other wrist conditions! One reviewer even got their doctor’s approval: “The doctor's office said the brace looked as good or better than what they would give me."
Sizes: one size fits most |Material: spandex, cotton
Pros: very comfortable to wear, positions hands perfectly for typing
Cons: not rigid enough for wrist injuries
The Exporox Wearable Gel Wrist Rest Pads are a great option for those who work at a computer all day, which all too often leads to pain and discomfort in the wrists. The braces are heavily padded to allow your wrists to sit flush with a mouse or keyboard, and they have an open-finger design, allowing for full range of motion in your fingers to type. This is a two-piece set that helps reduce tension, carpal tunnel pain and joint stress. That said, these braces do not provide wrist support or stabilization like some of the other options on this list. But if you’re looking for something to help make your work-from-home day a little easier, these wrist braces may be ideal for you.
Pros: very rigid, customizable compression, offers hot or cold therapy
Cons: only one gel pack comes with the brace
Featol's Support Brace With Wrist Splint is one of the few that offer a hot-and-cold therapy gel-pack insert, which can be especially helpful for pain and swelling associated with wrist sprains. “Braces that include inserts for ice or heat packs can be beneficial for pain, inflammation and swelling,” says Dr. Stephen J. Wallace, an orthopedic trauma and deformity specialist. You can wear the brace during the day or at night. That said, only one gel pack is included, so if you need another, you can buy the reusable packs separately. The brace is also equipped with a curved aluminum splint that is ergonomically designed to offer support and comfort while healing.
With more than 24,000 five-star reviews, this is definitely a winner. One reviewer said, "These are the best I found and I have tried quite a few in the last 50 years (I'm 70)."
Sizes available: one-size fits all |Material: Neoprene blend, latex-free
Pros: great compression, reduces pain and swelling
Cons: only one size available
Whether you are a new or seasoned pickleball player who's helped it become the fastest growing sport, you likely already know how easy a wrist injury (like tendinitis) can be between all the serves and returns. For this reason, we love the Artic Flex compression brace thanks to the large ice pack wrap that delivers instant soothing relief for swelling and inflammation. Although it only comes in one size, the brace is adjustable and the material is also latex-free. One reviewer called it a “lifesaver.” For only $12, it’s a great wrist brace worth keeping on hand (pun intended)!
Pros: great for arthritis and CTS, easy to wear, can be worn day or night
Cons: not very rigid
Arthritis sufferers are all too familiar with the pain, inflammation, stiffness and swelling that comes with the often debilitating condition. These copper compression arthritis gloves are a great solution for those painful flare-ups. "Support sleeves with mild compression can be useful for conditions such as mild arthritis in your joints," said Dr. Jennifer Wood, an orthopedic surgeon. The easy-on-and-off gloves provide that exact compression needed to help with pain and stiffness, especially during flare-ups. Made with moisture-wicking material, these gloves do the trick while also keeping your palms dry and fingers comfortable. We also love the durable, copper-infused machine-washable material.
Sizes available: one size fits most | Material: high-quality, breathable fabric
Pros: offers comfort and protection while sleeping, lifetime hassle-free replacement
Cons: compression is not customizable
The ComfyBrace for sleep support was explicitly made for sleeping, and more than 35,000 five-star reviewers say it definitely does its job. This brace, which fits both hands, provides gentle pressure and support to relieve pain, inflammation and swelling in the wrist due to conditions like CTS and arthritis that tend to flare up at night. It has a removable palmar splint for an ergonomic fit and instant support and relief. We also love that the easy slip-on sleeve design offers comfortable day and nightwear. ComfyBrace even offers a hassle-free lifetime replacement guarantee!
One reviewer said, "I decided to purchase this product to give it a try and the first day I put it on, it was the first day that I could sleep throughout the night!"
Conditions treated: Choose a brace tailored to your needs, whether for CTS, arthritis or a sports injury.
Compression: Compression is important, but how much compression you need will depend on your situation. “When we choose braces for our patients, we look for a product that provides the appropriate level of compression based on their individual needs,” says Don Levine, PT, DPT. Talk with your doctor to see what will work best for you.
Material: Choose a brace made from material that is durable, lightweight, breathable and machine washable.
Comfort: Be certain you choose a brace that is comfortable to wear so you will actually wear it. Tip: Look for user reviews that rave about comfort.
Hot or cold therapy: Some braces offer gel-pack inserts so you can easily apply hot or cold therapy to reduce pain and swelling. If this is something you will benefit from, make sure you choose a wrist brace with that feature.
When should I contact my doctor about a wrist injury?
You should see a doctor as soon as possible if you feel severe pain, have a fever with the pain, notice deformity or severe swelling or experience abnormal symptoms. Additionally, the University of Utah Health lists several symptoms that indicate you need to see a doctor if:
The pain worsens, even after you rest your hand or wrist
You feel pain even when you’re not using your hand
You feel pain when you do everyday movements, such as typing
Your hand or wrist is warm, tender or red, indicating you may have an infection
How we chose the best wrist braces
Our team interviewed orthopedic doctors in various fields of expertise, including athletic health specialists, hand and wrist specialists and surgeons, along with physical therapist who help with postoperative rehabilitation. Additionally, we reviewed over two dozen wrist braces and personally tested quite a few, including braces that treat CTS, tendonitis, arthritis and general wrist injuries. Finally, we chose the best products based on expert advice, materials used, brand reputation, cost, first-person testing and user reviewers.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know which wrist brace is best for my injury?
The type of wrist brace you choose will depend on your needs. For older adults and those recovering from an injury or sprain, Levine recommends using a firmer, more rigid brace. While rigid braces offer less compression, they’re more stabilizing, which can help with pain management and aid in recovery. Of course, when in doubt, consult with a doctor or health care professional.
How long can I wear a wrist brace?
If you plan to wear the brace for a prolonged period, you should consult with your health care provider first. “Prolonged bracing can lead to stiffness and weakness,” says Dr. Melissa Boyette, an orthopedic surgeon. “I would caution against wearing a brace longer than a few weeks if you have not been evaluated by a physician.”
Are wrist braces safe for everyone to wear?
If you have a condition or symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, tendonitis or a mild sprain, wearing a wrist brace can be very helpful. Wrist braces are generally considered safe as long as they're worn correctly. A wrist brace should also fit well, not too tight or cause chafing or skin irritation. Again, it’s always best to talk to a doctor about treatment options for your specific needs.
How many hours a day should you wear a wrist brace?
It really depends on your condition. Most experts agree, however, that wearing a wrist brace shouldn’t replace seeing a physician. “The duration for wearing a brace depends on the nature and severity of the injury, as well as the recommendations provided by a health care professional,” says neurosurgeon Denning.
Do wrist braces help with carpal tunnel?
For quality wrist braces, the answer is yes. “Most braces are adjustable, allowing for expansion with soft tissue swelling,” says Wallace. “As the swelling improves with the healing process, you can tighten the brace to ensure a stable and comfortable fit.” In addition to speaking with your doctor, you may need to try a few braces before you find the right fit.