Wrist straps, hand supports, and compression gloves each aim to help ease specific symptoms of arthritis.

Some are designed to help alleviate joint pain and stiffness, while others support the wrists and hands during day-to-day activities.

This article explores the types of wrist straps and hand supports available for people with arthritis. It investigates their effectiveness and cost, as well as other ways to help reduce pain and swelling caused by arthritis.

A person's hands wrapping a wrist brace for arthritis around someone's forearm. The person fitting the brace has navy blue sleeves, while the other has a bright turquoise top on.Share on Pinterest
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For someone with arthritis, wrist straps, compression gloves, and similar items may help:

  • reduce swelling
  • decrease pain and stiffness
  • improve the range of motion
  • provide support during daily activities

A 2018 study of women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) found that a wrist strap improved hand stabilization during tasks that required both hand strength and dexterity.

Meanwhile, a 2021 study investigated how well compression-type gloves helped participants with either inflammatory arthritis or osteoarthritis of the hands. After wearing the gloves for 4 weeks, the participants reported reduced hand pain and stiffness and improved hand function.

However, not all researchers report positive findings. Another study published the same year found that arthritis gloves did not provide clinically significant improvements in hand pain, stiffness, or function for participants with RA.

Various kinds of wrist straps and hand supports are available, including:

Compression gloves

These apply consistent pressure to the hands and wrists. The pressure may help promote blood flow to the joints, thereby alleviating joint pain and stiffness.

While compression gloves have not been well-studied, many professionals recommend their use.

The 2021 investigation into the efficacy of compression gloves for people with inflammatory arthritis or osteoarthritis of the hand found that after 4 weeks, the participants who wore the gloves reported reduced pain and stiffness and better hand function.

IMAK gloves

These compression gloves are made with a combination of spandex and cotton. The Arthritis Foundation has a partnership with the brand IMAK. They foundation says that these gloves provide mild compression, which can help promote circulation and alleviate pain.

IMAK gloves have open fingertips, so a person wearing them can use touchscreens and have a firm grip.

The Global Healthy Living Foundation reports that IMAK gloves are among the most highly recommended gloves for people with arthritis pain.

Heated gloves

Providing extra heat to the hand and wrist joints may help:

  • improve sensation in the hands
  • reduce hand pain
  • improve the range of motion
  • increase hand function

Some of these gloves have battery-powered heating elements, while others are made of materials that trap heat against the skin.

Copper gloves

These are compression gloves that contain copper fibers. Manufacturers claim that the copper helps warm the hands, promote circulation, and reduce swelling.

However, the Arthritis Foundation reports that neither copper gloves nor copper bracelets work to reduce arthritis symptoms. It says that any perceived benefits result from a placebo effect.

Fingerless gloves

Fingerless gloves provide hand and wrist support while allowing the person to feel objects and use touchscreen devices. Many arthritis gloves are fingerless, to help people maintain full hand function.

Wrist braces

These wrap around the wrists. They correctly position the hands and wrists, providing support and stability to the joints, and they may help with arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

There are two types of wrist braces. One supports the hand and wrist at rest. The other supports the hand and wrist in motion.

The 2018 study mentioned above found that participants with RA reported improved hand function when wearing wrist braces during the day.

Wrist straps

These straps, or splints, support the wrist. There are various designs, but each aims to promote healthy wrist positioning and reduce pain associated with arthritis.

An older study, from 1981, investigated whether wearing a certain brand of wrist brace for 10 days would help participants with one of the following conditions:

  • osteoarthritis
  • RA
  • tenosynovitis
  • gout of the wrist

The participants reported:

  • improved grip strength
  • improved pinch strength
  • improved ability to do daily activities
  • reduced pain while waking and sleeping

The study from 2018 confirmed that wrist splints can provide stabilization and improve the range of motion for people with RA.

The best wrist strap or glove for someone with arthritis depends on many factors, including:

  • whether the person needs support, pain relief, or both
  • whether they want to wear it while active, resting and sleeping, or both
  • how the person uses their hands

Compression gloves and heated gloves may improve circulation and alleviate joint pain.

Supportive braces and splints can place the wrist and hand in an optimal position for work or rest. This may also help ease joint pain.

Compression gloves and heated gloves may help stimulate blood flow and reduce swelling.

Supportive straps and gloves may help stabilize the hand and wrist, but they may not help ease swelling in these areas.

The cost of wrist straps, gloves, and similar items can vary based on the following factors:

  • the type a person needs
  • the brand
  • the retailer

A person should be able to find a large selection of wrist straps, hand supports, and gloves online or at their local pharmacy.

The Arthritis Foundation notes that a person should continue with their regular arthritis treatment, even if therapeutic straps or gloves provide relief. A healthcare professional can recommend the best combination of arthritis medications, supportive therapies, and lifestyle changes.

Some home care techniques that may help ease arthritis symptoms include:

  • taking supplements that support joint health
  • applying creams and other topical products
  • applying warm or cool compresses
  • trying alternative therapies, such as massage
  • having a diet that promotes wellness and a healthy weight
  • practicing stress reduction techniques

Aim to exercise regularly, as exercise can have several benefits for people with arthritis, including alleviating joint and muscle stiffness.

Different types of wrist straps and gloves may help alleviate different arthritis symptoms. Some may ease joint pain and swelling, while others focus on supporting the wrists and hands during daily activities.

A person can find a wide selection of these items online or at a local pharmacy.

Anyone who wears a wrist strap or glove for arthritis should continue with the rest of their prescribed treatment plan, unless a doctor recommends making a change.