Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace – Good for you vs Bad For You?
I receive a lot of emails from people who have questions about the usefulness of carpal tunnel wrist braces and night splints. To be honest, when it comes to these devices I have mixed feelings, since I’ve seen many patients who have been fitted for a wrist brace or who wear night splints to relieve the pain they suffer from carpal tunnel. Occupational therapists design these braces in order to immobilize the hand; this reduces the swelling and inflammation of the carpal tunnel, which in turn eases the discomfort. The reason these devices make me uneasy is because they require immobilization, and any time a muscle or joint is immobilized, it loses function.
The value of just reducing movement is not a cure for your carpal tunnel, cubital tunnel or whatever (they all are related) symptoms you have going on. There is value in the fact of using a brace or a night splint to rest the area. However, our bodies crave movement and motion, so, ultimately, this solution is a band aid instead of a cure. Focusing on postural muscle imbalance and the reasons which caused your body to get imbalanced caused carpal tunnel is the solution.
Postural muscle imbalance is a condition that occurs whenever your body habitually remains in a particular posture day after day, such as when you’re sitting in front of the computer all day, or sitting in your car far several hours every day, and so forth. This results in some muscles becoming more developed than others, while some muscles end up losing their function through lack of use. When this happens, your body no longer maintains the natural S-curve of the spine and peripheral joints (elbows, wrists and shoulders). Over time, this will cause the symptoms of carpal tunnel to appear.
If this vicious cycle isn’t broken, the damage will increase. If you end up losing the use of your hand for a few months or more due to carpal tunnel pain, it could affect your ability to provide for yourself and your family. Other symptoms that can accompany carpal tunnel pain include “frozen shoulder,” lower back pain, and headaches, and all of these have the same cause: Postural muscle imbalance.
It’s easy to dismiss these warnings as being overly alarmist, but the fact is that this is your health and your future. If you’re already caught in the cycle of carpal tunnel, you need to end it before it escalates, and the earlier the better. To stop carpal tunnel at the source, your only solution will be to regularly follow some simple postural muscle balance restoration exercises, so that wrist braces and night splints will no longer be necessary in the first place.