Difference Between Wrist Brace and Splint

In conditions of arthritis, wrist tendonitis, fractures, sprains and strains, people search for wrist support. A tool that can support and protect their painful, weak and inflamed area. There are various types of wrist supports available, which are majorly divided into wrist braces and wrist splints. 

Wrist Brace vs Wrist Splint

The main difference between a wrist brace and a wrist splint is that a wrist brace is a supportive tool wrapped around the wrist to protect and reinforce the healing of vulnerable areas. The wrist splint is more like a glove without fingers. Both of them are used in initial recovery phases, which requires little to no movement at all.

Wrist Brace vs Wrist Splint

Wrist braces come in different variants, according to need, symptoms and severeness of the discomfort in the wrist. It is a supportive device that is prescribed, as a part of therapy or medication. It protects vulnerable areas from further injuries and helps them to recover fast.

A wrist splint is a modified wrist brace that is a lot like a finger-less glove. It is rigid to limit the motion and provide support. They release the pressure on the median nerve, but might not always be comfortable. Its application is fruitful for short term use.

Comparison Table Between Wrist Brace and Splint

ParametersWrist brace Wrist splint
PeriodCan be used for a longer period of treatmentMainly used for short term treatment.
FunctionsStabilize the wrist in a neutral position.Stabilize wrist in straight or bent-back position.
Function Retain joints in a steady position.Immobilize the wrist for quicker recovery.
Function Prevent repetitive movements, for better healing.Provide relative rest, but hardly prevent repetitive movement.
UseMainly advised for sprains and tears.Mainly advised for bone fractures as postoperative therapy or carpal tunnel syndrome
UseHelpful in conditions such as arthritis, tendonitis.Helpful in conditions such as Carpal tunnel syndrome.
AvailabilityNeeds proper orthopaedic prescription to obtain from a medical supply store.No need for a prescription from an orthopaedic, and can easily be bought from medical stores.
Customisable The wrist brace can not be customisable and comes in commercial sizes.Splints can be customisable according to your need and comfort.

What is a Wrist Brace?

Wrist braces are the common garments that are implanted for injury rehabilitation involving the wrist. It is a supportive accessory worn to avoid repetitive movement and strengthen recovery. It is made up of nylon or neoprene fabric and is usually fixed with Velcro which is rigid in nature and restricts the mobility of joints.

In some, extensions are made to cover parts involving the palm around the thumb. In some cases, they involve metal spines for better support and immobilization of the joint. Most of the time wrist braces are used in orthopedics but are popular in sports.

Wrist braces have a protective function against the stressful activities of the wrist. In such cases, the use of a wrist brace can prevent sprains and strains of the wrist. Most sports players use wrist braces as wrist guards to absorb the impact of strenuous work.

They are prescribed for long term use, according to the severeness of the injury. They are not readily available in medical stores and need a proper prescription from an orthopedic.

What is a Wrist Splint?

There is almost no difference in function, between brace and splint. But the wrist splint looks more like a finger-less glove. They are made up of the same material as the brace but are customised according to their drape, malleability, and rigidity.

It is most popularly advised in carpal tunnel syndrome. It functions to balance your wrist in a straight or slightly bent-back position. It provides relative comfort from the pain caused by the pressure on the median nerve. It relieves pressure from the median nerve and restricts movements that make carpal tunnel syndrome worse.

They are often prescribed to be worn during sleep, to stabilize the wrist and reduce the pain and pressure on the median nerve. They are not a good replacement for wearing them at the workplace, as they might put more strain on the wrist tendons.

They can provide relief for a short period, but long-term use can result in the weakening of muscles. They are radially available in drugstores and can be bought without prescription from an orthopedic.

Main Differences Between Wrist Brace and Wrist Splint

  1. The wrist braces are advised as part of longer treatment or medication, while wrist splints give benefit in the short term only. Long-term use is not advisable for wrist splints.
  2. The braces are used to stabilize the wrist in the neutral position, to relieve the stress. While the wrist splint balances your wrist in a straight or bent-back position.
  3. A wrist brace prevents repetitive movement, which might be damaging to the vulnerable area. Wrist splints immobilize the wrist area but hardly prevent repetitive motions. 
  4. Braces are prescribed in sprains and tears but also prescribed for arthritis, tendonitis, etc. Splints are mainly advised to be used in bone fractures and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  5. Anyone could not purchase the brace, unless having a prescription, while a splint can be bought without any proper prescription.

Conclusion

The wrist brace and splint don’t have such a difference if you are observing roughly. But they differ a lot in terms of use, function and period of prescription. According to the symptoms, severity and type of the discomfort, orthopedics prescribe one of these.

As the terms of the use of both of these vary according to pain, long term use should be avoided for splints as it might end up weakening wrist muscles. Strenuous work should be avoided if wearing braces as it might hurt tendons. 

Both of them have pros and cons, but smart use can yield better relief.

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1600-0404.2008.01072.x
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1058274609005692

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