272016Sep

Copper Gloves or Hand Surgery for Carpal Tunnel: Fact Versus Fiction.

Over the past few years, several companies have developed sets of gloves embedded with copper beads or wiring that claim to reduce pain and inflammation in the hands. While some may argue these copper-laden wearables provide pain relief, others, including hand surgeons, tend to see them as nothing more than a placebo. Before purchasing these products, you need to know the two truths behind them. 

1. Studies Have Been Minimal and Limited.

Very few studies have actually reviewed if copper wearables help improve circulation, pain, inflammation or carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, the wearables’ manufacturers, asserts Consumer Reports, have been subject to fines upward of $86.6 million for making similar claims. Furthermore, the most relevant study, completed in 2013, found copper wearables did not reduce pain in the wrists. However, the study did find some people experienced relief from the compression. Yet, it is unknown if the participants in the study were suffering from sprains, strains, carpal tunnel or another joint problem. 

2. Compression Is Not Expressly Advised for People With Carpal Tunnel. 

Carpal tunnel is the result of compression of the nerves within the wrist. As a result, added compression is not expressly listed as a treatment measure for the condition on many medical publications, including the Mayo Clinic and MedlinePlus.  The closest treatment measure even mentioned is splinting of the joint to stabilize the nerve’s position. In other words, the only benefit of copper wearables would be if they helped to immobilize the joint without providing added compression. 

The decision to use copper wearables depends on your personal preferences and on-going treatment plan with your hand doctor. A splint or brace may be more helpful and cost-effective than purchasing copper wearables for carpal tunnel syndrome. To find out more about available treatment options, or to speak with a qualified hand surgeon, fill out the online contact form for the Florida Hand Center or call 1 (941) 625-3782.