Thumb Brace Features to Look For

thumb brace

A hand brace is generally used for problems with the entire hand. A thumb brace is essentially a hand brace that concentrates adding support to the injured thumb. There are a few thumb brace features to look for. Generally, a thumb brace can be one that restricts all of the fingers or one that restricts only the thumb using a spica (“spica brace”).

What’s a thumb brace for?

These days, there are many thumb brace features available. Their main purpose is to keep the thumb immobilized while it heals from surgery, injury or disease. Indeed, the most common reason to wear a thumb brace is either for a thumb sprain or for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. However, other conditions might require a thumb brace such as:

  • Post-operative
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Thumb fracture
  • Wrist tendinitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Gamekeeper’s thumb
  • Skier’s thumb

When a thumb brace features a spica

One of the main thumb brace features is a thumb “spica”. This is a rigid or semi-rigid extension of the hand brace that supports the thumb. It’s designed to keep the thumb stable and in one position. Generally, thumb braces incorporate a spica for post-surgical rehabilitation or as a substitute for a hand cast. Usually they include a simple Velcro-locked spica support or a lace-up spica. However, several spicas are moldable to conform to the bend in a person’s thumb, or as the doctor requires for maximum healing. Hence, a modern thumb brace with a spica should have a moldable plastic spine. Therefore, you can mold and adjust it into the shape you need with just a little heat.

Thumb brace features for sprains

You can sprain a thumb if you bend it too far, beyond its normal range of motion. Therefore, too much bending will disrupt the ligaments that support the thumb. Beyond their physical limits, ligaments can develop micro-tears. As a result, inflammation and swelling follow. Hence, severe pain is the final outcome. In fact, the most common injuries occur in association with contact sports like football and basketball. The most severe cases require surgery to join completely ripped ligaments in the thumb. Thus, a thumb spica brace will help keep the thumb from moving excessively. Indeed, the best thumb brace features will immobilize the thumb but will also be comfortable. Whether you need a it for post-surgical support or for support after a more minor injury (like a partial tear) it’s perfect. It allows tissues to heal better in the 4-6 weeks that most thumb ligaments require.

thumb brace features

Thumb brace features for De Quervain’s tenosynovitis

With simple diagnoses now available, it is common today for doctors to identify De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Indeed, it is essentially tendinitis at the base of the thumb. Usually it occurs in one of several ways, such as arthritis, and trauma to the thumb. Also, repetitively and forcefully gripping and releasing objects causes thumb trauma. In fact, if you have this condition, moving your thumb while grasping or making a fist will cause pain. The Finkelstein test can determine this. First, bend your thumb across the palm. Then close your fingers over the thumb. Next, bend your wrist toward your little finger. This will cause pain in your thumb if you have de Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

The most severe cases of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis require surgery. However, in the majority of instances the condition is treatable with cortisone injections and bracing. Therefore, one of the main thumb braces features to look for is a thumb spica. It will help rest the thumb while the other fingers can work, if only in a limited way. Moreover, wear the brace with spica day and night, generally for 4-6 weeks for maximum benefit.


A thumb brace is used when a thumb must be immobilized. Several conditions may require this. Therefore, it’s generally necessary to look for thumb brace features that have a thumb spica. This will insure the thumb does not move during the therapy period.

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