Compression gloves have been around for decades, but they have only become common for both medical and non-medical use within the last few years. Typically, compression gloves are prescribed to patients as part of specific treatment plans for relevant conditions. However, they can also be purchased without the need for a prescription or even a diagnosed condition. In fact, more and more people are using compression gloves for numerous reasons.
Still, you probably have a lot of questions about compression gloves and what they really do. For example, what exactly are compression gloves? How do they work? How long can you safely wear compression gloves? What health conditions or symptoms can compression gloves help treat and alleviate? In today’s guide, we will answer all of these questions and more, so let’s get started!
What Are Compression Gloves?
Compression gloves are a specific type of glove that provides varying degrees of pressure to the hands, wrists, and fingers. However, this only refers to compression gloves for hands. You can also get compression gloves for the feet, though these are often just referred to as “compression socks.”
In any case, compression gloves come in a wide range of styles and compression levels. Many styles feature fingerless gloves, which allow you to do things like use a touch-screen device or handle manual tasks without needing to remove the gloves. That said, there are also variations that cover the entire hand and wrist.
How Do Compression Gloves Work?
Like compression socks, compression gloves work by applying constant pressure to the soft tissue of your hands (or feet). The amount of pressure depends on the compression level of your particular gloves. Here are some of the standard compression ranges that you can find for sale through reputable vendors like Compression Health:
- Light (8 to 15 mmHg) - As the name implies, compression gloves that fall within this category generally provide “light” levels of pressure. This is usually reserved for people with very mild conditions, poor circulation in the extremities, or minor pain and swelling.
- Moderate (15 to 20 mmHg) - Moderate compression gloves put more pressure on the hands to help reduce stronger cases of pain and inflammation. This degree of compression can also do more to improve circulation and make stiff joints more malleable.
- Firm (20 to 30 mmHg) - In most cases, 20 mmHg or higher is reserved for diagnosed medical conditions that need treatment. This might include moderate to severe arthritis, tendonitis, or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
- Extra Firm (30 to 40 mmHg) - Naturally, extra firm compression gloves put the most pressure on your body and are therefore reserved for more severe conditions. These may also be recommended to patients who suffer from chronic conditions that cause excessive pain, inflammation, or swelling.
In short, the keyword when it comes to compression gloves and how they work is “pressure.” By applying pressure to the entirety of your hand or foot (sometimes excluding the tips of the fingers or toes), compression gloves can increase blood flow, give extra support to joints, reduce pain, stiffness, and inflammation, and generally make daily tasks easier to do for people suffering from various health conditions.
How Long Should You Wear Compression Gloves?
There is no exact science as to the length of time you should wear compression gloves. It depends on the compression level of your gloves, the recommendation of your doctor (if applicable), as well as the reason you are wearing the gloves in the first place. But can you wear compression gloves too long? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
Generally speaking, compression gloves are meant to be worn for no more than 8 hours at a time. However, if you are using light or moderate level gloves, you can wear them for 12 to 16 hours at a time without experiencing any negative side effects. However, as the pressure increases, the amount of time that you can safely wear compression gloves decreases. Most gloves can still be worn overnight (roughly 8 hours), but if you try to wear high-level compression gloves for longer, you could end up doing more harm than good.
This is because compression gloves are not designed to be worn at all times. For example, if you suffer from arthritis pain in your hands at night, you will just need to wear them at night. Alternatively, if you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that flairs up during the workday, you should only wear them while you are at work. In any case, wearing high-pressure compression gloves for extended periods of time can actually reduce blood flow to the area, causing pain or numbness in the affected area. So, if you are worried that you might be wearing your gloves for too long, reduce the amount of time you use them and talk with your doctor about his or her specific recommendations.
Who Wears Compression Gloves?
Most people wear compression gloves to alleviate pain, swelling, or inflammation. However, these symptoms are often caused by underlying health issues. Below are some of the most common issues that can be helped with compression gloves:
- Arthritis - Arthritis affects millions of people every year and causes a lot of pain, particularly in the joints of the wrists and fingers. A compression glove can help put pressure on these joints to alleviate pain and support movement in arthritic hands. It can also help reduce the inflammation caused by specific kinds of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
- Trigger Finger - Trigger finger is a condition in which one or more fingers get stuck in a bent position. Compression gloves can help improve overall blood flow and mobility to reduce instances of trigger finger.
- Tendonitis - Tendonitis is the inflammation of one or more tendons. The human hand has dozens of tendons, which can mean a lot of swelling and inflammation for those with the condition. Fortunately, compression gloves help reduce this swelling and pain.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Carpal Tunnel is a type of neuropathy that leads to numbness and weakness in one or both hands. By increasing blood flow, compression gloves help fight these symptoms and improve hand mobility.
- Hand Pain & Swelling - General hand swelling or hand pain can be caused by a wide variety of behaviors or activities. This is why many people without diagnosed conditions turn to compression gloves for gaming, knitting, typing, and similar activities that require fast movement of the hands. The gloves can help you continue enjoying your favorite hobbies without pain or swelling.
- Lymphedema or Edema - These are similar conditions that both result in excess fluids building up in the soft tissue of the body. When this happens in the hands or feet, it can cause pain and swelling that should be treated with concentrated pressure.
- Poor Circulation - Congenital heart conditions, poor diet, and/or lack of exercise can all lead to poor circulation. This means that your heart has to work harder to get the blood flowing to the extremities (i.e. your hands and feet). This often results in cold hands and even tingling or numbness. Fortunately, compression gloves are one of the best solutions to alleviate the symptoms of poor circulation in your hands or feet.
We hope you found this guide on compression gloves both useful and informative! Are you currently in the market for compression gloves or other types of compression wear? If so, be sure to reach out to Compression Health today!