Should You Wear a Hand Brace to Bed?

March 29, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Laurent Delavaux, M.D. contributes to topics such as Orthopedics, Rehabilitation , Physical Medicine.

If you are experiencing persistent wrist or hand pain, you may be wondering if wearing a hand brace to bed can help you heal. But according to Laurent Delavaux, M.D., whether a hand brace at night will be beneficial for you depends on your symptoms and diagnosis.

“Assuming that you have no previous medical issues, there are a few common causes for hand and wrist pain,” says Dr. Delavaux, a board certified physiatrist and pain management specialist at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute. “Working with a qualified health care provider to figure out the exact cause of your pain will determine whether a hand brace will be helpful, how to relieve your pain, and how to treat the root cause of the discomfort.”

Common Causes of Hand and Wrist Pain & When to Wear a Brace

Dr. Delavaux said there are a few conditions that can cause hand and wrist discomfort, including:

  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the hand, becomes irritated, swells and fills the narrow passageway in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. The condition is common, particularly among people who type or do other types of repetitive work with their hands. Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause weakness, numbness, tingling and pain in the hand and wrist.

“When we sleep, we often have our wrists bent forward or backward, which can pinch the nerve and lead to carpal tunnel symptoms at night,” explains Dr. Delavaux. “Initial conservative treatment of wearing a brace that holds the wrist in a neutral position during sleep may help to alleviate symptoms.”

  • Fractures and other injuries.

Fractures and other injuries are another common cause of pain in the wrist and hand. If left untreated, fractures can cause serious problems, so it is important to see a health care provider for an accurate diagnosis.

“If you have had a fall or think you may have fractured your hand or wrist, it is OK to wear a brace overnight until you can get to the doctor’s office,” says Dr. Delavaux. “But be sure to get it checked out, especially if the pain doesn’t get better after a day or two.”

  • Basal joint arthritis.

Basal joint arthritis occurs when the cartilage in the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint at the base of the thumb wears away, causing pain with movement.

“For people who have thumb arthritis, wearing a brace may help by providing warmth and compression,” shares Dr. Delavaux.

  • Tendon injuries.

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis is another condition that affects the tendons on the thumb side of your wrist, often leading to pain and swelling. It is common in people who type or do other repetitive work with their hands.

“This condition is very common in new moms who are frequently picking up their baby,” says Dr. Delavaux. “In this instance, wearing a hand brace to bed may help to alleviate the symptoms.”

Getting the Right Diagnosis and Treatment

When to wear a hand brace and for how long depends on receiving an accurate diagnosis from a qualified health care provider. If necessary, your provider may refer you to a physical or occupational therapist for further treatment.

“Physical therapists and occupational therapists will develop a plan to treat your condition using active techniques, as opposed to only passive techniques such as wearing a brace,” says Dr. Delavaux.

Dr. Delavaux says that physical therapists and occupational therapists are also experts in the fabrication of splints and braces, allowing them to create a customized brace specifically for you.

“As convenient as it is to buy a brace at a drugstore, it might not fit correctly or be what you need for your condition,” adds Dr. Delavaux.

And although wearing a brace at night might be one part of your treatment plan, Dr. Delavaux stresses that seeing a health care provider is the best way to address the root cause of your condition.

“Wearing a brace at night certainly won’t hurt, but the question really is, ‘How do you stop the cycle of discomfort?’” says Dr. Delavaux. “If something is bothering you for more than a couple of days, it’s important to get it checked. You don’t want to create lasting issues by allowing a problem to go untreated.”

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.