Brace yourself! Comparing options by Futuro, Mueller and Wellgate for slim(ish) wrists in need of support

This post is for a very specific audience: those who have carpal tunnel or other symptoms that require wrist braces to reduce tingling and prevent damage to delicate nerves.

No one wants to buy a medical device. When you need one, you’re often dropping by the drugstore on your way home from a ten minute visit with a harried doctor. S/he told you to buy an “X”; there is only one “X” for sale at CVS. You pay retail and head for home, praying that “X” will provide you with the relief you deserve.

Futuro (Night) Brace: unisex & ambidextrous

That’s how I ended up with my first wrist brace, anyway. It’s a Futuro model. With tax, it cost $33.46. Of course, I couldn’t use my Flexible Spending Account at the cash register because it’s an over the counter (OTC) item.

I have grave doubts that there is any recreational use of a wrist brace, but I’m sure the half hour of my time necessary to submit this receipt for reimbursement is providing valuable fraud protection. Ahem.

The unisex Futuro Wrist Brace (Night) has one feature that (sort of) makes it stand out from others in a positive way: it can be used on either the left or right wrist. I did alternate nights with either wrist in the splint when I first got it, and it is capable of alleviating the majority of my pins and needles sensations for both hands.

The rather obvious downside of an ambidextrous wrist brace is that the fit is generic. This is the bulkiest brace I’ve worn. I don’t enjoy sporting any of them, but this one is the least comfortable, also offering somewhat less relief from the pins and needles sensation that warns me that a nerve is being compressed.

I think the Futuro Wrist Brace (Night) is just too big for a medium sized woman like me. It can’t hug my wrist sufficiently to prevent all of the inadvertent bending that triggers my symptoms.

I mean no disrespect to the Futuro Wrist Brace (Night). I’m grateful that I found something in stock locally when I needed it. Paying more for a less specific but adequate product was okay, and there is great value in immediate relief.

I also feel compelled to note that I tolerated the Futuro for occasional use for over two years before deciding to “upgrade” to another, more fitted option. The Futuro is not a bad choice.

Having said that, my search for the ultimate brace continued when I found myself wearing wrist braces regularly again this summer.

I’m thinking of relegating the ambidextrous Futuro brace to my travel bag where it could serve either wrist if I experience discomfort during a trip. It is bulky, but one Futuro could stand in for both a left- and right- handed brace if I’m not suffering from too many symptoms.

Sizing notes, applicable to all reviewed braces

Let me clarify at this point what I mean by my being a “medium sized” woman so there is no mistaking who will benefit most from my experience and advice on this size-specific product.

My wrist is about 6.25 inches in circumference. My palm measures about 7.25 inches around.

My ring size is 7.5; I measure for a size 7 glove, but I often find a size 8 more comfortable because I don’t have slim fingers. The same thing happens with shoes: I may just be intolerant to anything with a snug fit. This is true of many people with chronic pain conditions!

I can (just) encircle my wrist with thumb and middle finger, something I’ve heard means I have an average sized frame.

Most people observing me would probably agree that I’m “well padded,” or, as I usually put it, I have a traditional matron’s figure. I am not slim. I only squeak by into the “normal” BMI category, but my doctor says I’m good because I carry my excess weight low, around the hips.

Bilateral braces: one just wasn’t enough

My joint issues occur bilaterally (on both sides of the body), so it was obvious that a second brace would be required to treat my other wrist. I wanted to see how much it helped (a lot) and how well I tolerated wearing it (it’s annoying) before I bought another. I also figured the internet might offer more than one choice of size/style beyond CVS‘s solo Futuro. I was right.

Perusing the wrist brace selections on Amazon.com today reveals that:

  1. The same Futuro brace sells for $20 ($17 with Subscribe & Save) in 2017 without brick & mortar overhead, and
  2. There are better rated models available for women or those with small wrists.

The situation was similar in 2015, which is when I ordered my Wellgate brace from Amazon.

Wellgate for Women PerfectFit Wrist Support

With a fundamental grumpiness about my big blue Futuro brace, I opted to try the highly regarded Wellgate for Women PerfectFit Wrist Support next.

Needing a brace for each wrist and possessing one that was ambidextrous, I opted for the right hand. Why? It was a few cents cheaper that day.

I paid $14.47 in 2015 for the Wellgate for Women brace. (It’s $11 and change with free Prime shipping for either wrist as of this writing.)

The Wellgate brace fits me much more comfortably than the Futuro. It’s less bulky. I want to say it is less hot to wear, but that could be psychosomatic. It “feels” less hot.

There’s nothing sexy about a wrist splint, but I feel somewhat less like Frankenstein in the smaller, more fitted Wellgate model.

I’ve owned both the Futuro and the Wellgate wrist braces for two years and a few months. I wear them when I need them, which means constantly (when I’m flaring) and then intermittently (when my autoimmune condition is well controlled.)

It isn’t obvious from the photographs, but I must admit that the Futuro beats the Wellgate for maintaining its beauty. In person, there is obvious wear on the light grey Wellgate brace, mostly with regard to stretching in the velcro tabs. They are slightly misshapen.  This does not affect its support. It is purely cosmetic.

I don’t see any obvious wear and tear except for dirty velcro (hair and fuzz caught in the firm side) on the dark blue Futuro brace.

Some Amazon reviewers have noted that their light colored Wellgate braces look dingy over time, but I suspect they may be wearing them to work or during daytime activities. Using the Wellgate exclusively for bedtime reading and sleep hasn’t resulted in any soiling of my splint.

As a rather odd aside, I’ll mention that I can wedge my Kindle Voyage right into the the thumb hole of a wrist brace to avoid bending my arthritic fingers when holding it. Here is a unique benefit to requiring a splint to sleep without damaging one’s nerves!

Mueller green label brace: Wellgate‘s dark twin?

My most recent acquisition is the Mueller Green Label Fitted Wrist brace, size Small/Medium. Mine is for the left wrist.

I’ve mentioned (reluctantly, because it is boring) that I haven’t felt great recently.  One frustrating side effect of that inconvenience is the return of carpal tunnel(ish) symptoms. Tingling finger? Numbness? Yup. And heaven forefend I dare to support my arm or elbow on any armrest…

But I digress.

I’m back to wearing a wrist brace every night, and my ill temper about this development led me to order a second smaller, more fitted brace for the hand that didn’t yet have one.

I logged on to Amazon fully intending to buy a second Wellgate brace. I was happier with it than with my original Futuro. I have this problem, though… When there are options, I want to try them all. It might be a compulsion.

Reviews of the Mueller Green Label Fitted Wrist brace are pretty similar to the Wellgate for Women PerfectFit Wrist Support. The two products look almost identical. Many reviewers claim they are identical. A few reviewers swear up and down that one or the other is 1000% better.

I’m going to side with the folks who say these are essentially the same product. On my first night wearing both, I thought one was somewhat more comfortable than the other, but now I believe that is a function of getting the velcro fasteners adjusted just right. Color and the shape of those velcro fasteners are the only two differences I can see between the Mueller and Wellgate wrist splints.

Hurrah for velcro! It makes things fit just right!

If you have a wrist in the 6.5″ range, I think you will find both the Wellgate for Women PerfectFit Wrist Support and the Mueller Green Label Fitted Wrist Brace to be great options.

Buy whichever is cheaper.

Buy the darker colored (black) Mueller if you want to wear it while working. Buy the lighter colored (grey) Wellgate if it makes you feel cooler* (i.e., of a non-hot body temperature) or more feminine, like me. These have a very similar fit.

Consider buying one brand for the left and the other brand for the right hand because… they look different, so it will be easier to see at a glance which is left and which is right. If you have an autoimmune condition, you’ve got enough serious stuff to think about. Let this be a no brainer.

If you are suffering today, buy the Futuro if that’s what is available locally. It will help. Then, if you need a better fit because your problem is ongoing, consider seeking out a sized brace for the other hand, or to replace what will eventually wear out. Give yourself permission to spend the $11 or $17 to make this necessary—but annoying—medical equipment as satisfying as possible.

Surgery would cost an awful lot more.

 

 

*Sorry to say, but you will probably never feel cool in the social sense while wearing a wrist splint.

4 thoughts on “Brace yourself! Comparing options by Futuro, Mueller and Wellgate for slim(ish) wrists in need of support

  1. I too am suffering from carpal tumnel symptoms off and on. I alternate between Mueller short wrist brace and a longer brace called Futuro. Mueller immobilizes my thumb more than Futuro but Futuro immobilizes my wrist more so that’s why I like to alternate. 😊

    • That’s a great point that I didn’t think of. Barring a custom made support that fits every part of your body precisely, there may be a real benefit to switching things up.

      Did you find yours in a local store, get the brace from the doctor, or have to order them?

      One time, when my foot was broken, I received the walking boot right at the doctor’s office, but I had to write a check (no credit cards accepted) and it was preposterously expensive for some velcro, foam, and plastic.

      It pays to shop around, but I also end up feeling like I might buy the wrong thing (from lack of expertise) and make an injury worse!

      I don’t know what the best outlet for this kind of medical device is, but I think we could do better.

  2. This was a great post. My wife suffered from carpal tunnel all through her third pregnancy, and on and off thereafter. The doctors in the UK gave her a pair of very basic wrist supports, that aren’t that good, but do the job… barely.

    She – like myself – uses a computer for many hours of the day, and fortunately she found relief by switching from a PC mouse, to a trackpad on an Apple Mac. These days, I (sometimes) use her wrist supports myself, and because they have such basic velcro fastening straps, I can fit them on my (much bigger) wrists, by simply using using extra velcro (cut from a reel), to extend the straps. Once again, it does the job, and provides relief if I sleep with them on (mostly just my right wrist). These ones provide much food for thought. Thank you!

    In Canada, I have to say we have experienced a truly excellent health service – even better than the national health service in the UK – and for us, the surgery would be free. Just antibiotics (if required), and painkillers following the surgery, and luckily they’d be on our insurance plan. But then there’s still the down-time to be considered, and when my father had it done in the UK some years back, it really wasn’t the successful relief that he had hoped it might have been. This one’s given me a lot to think about. Thanks again.

  3. Yeah, theoretically, surgery might help my foot, too, but… sometimes it does nothing!

    I’ve never had so much as a dental surgery. No anesthesia, ever. It’s not something I’m looking to delve into while I’ve got any other option(s.)

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