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What is a Wrist Extension Brace?

The wrist is an intricate arrangement of joints formed by the junction of the two bones of the forearm (the radius and ulna) and three of the eight carpal bones that make up the base of the hand. The carpal bones are in two rows, linked by the scaphoid bone. Ligaments connect the bones, keeping them in the correct position when flexing or extending the wrist and limiting the extent of movement in order to safeguard the structure.

Any heavy fall or sufficiently forceful trauma can wrench the wrist beyond its normal range of movement, and result in a sprain or fracture. In fact, it is quite uncommon to sprain a wrist without broking a bone at the same time. In order to heal fully, wrist joints need time. Bones must be immobilized, and the movement of the ligaments restricted.

Some other conditions and disorders that may require temporary support of the wrist include carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, de Quervain's tenosynovitis, tendonitis, tendonosis, and more.

Using a wrist extension brace (or splint) helps reduce discomfort by stabilizing the wrist in a neutral, optimum position. There is a bendable, spoon-shaped structure against the palm that is held in place by adjustable hook and loop fasteners. A malleable stay for the back of the hand (dorsal stay) to improve stability is sometimes an optional extra. Extension splints tend to be made from a stretchable, washable neoprene (or airprene, which is breathable for increased comfort) material. A larger strap that passes around the lower wrist provides extra stability and compression, and prevents the splint slipping towards the hand. The standard length of a wrist extension brace is 8 inches, while the extended version is 10 inches.

A regular extension splint ends below the knuckles, which allows unrestricted movement of the thumb and fingers. This makes it possible to perform most daily tasks while keeping the wrist immobile. Some models of splint come with a thumb support that limits extreme movement of the thumb joints. These can be helpful in cases of Gamekeeper's Thumb or other thumb conditions or injuries.

Wrist extension braces come in a range of sizes based on the circumference of the wrist, and in left- or right-hand options.

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