Compression gloves go by many names: arthritis gloves, thermal gloves, arthritic compression gloves, edema gloves, and therapeutic gloves. But, all these names really refer to a style of glove that gently squeezes the hand and fingers to provide compression.
This compression increases blood flow which, in turn, oxygenates the area and reduces pain. It also helps reduce inflammation and swelling. They are also used to treat joint stiffness, poor grip strength, poor blood circulation in the hands, and weakened hand function – all of which are common hand arthritis symptoms.
In this guide, I’ll show you some of the best compression gloves for arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other disorders that cause hand pain. I’ll also review some of the claims made by these products and tell you which ones have been backed by science – and which haven’t.
What Are The Best Compression Gloves?
In my research for this guide I found over 150 different arthritis compression gloves on the market. Many made crazy claims that could never be substantiated. So, I am only recommending products that claim the general, well-known benefits of compression or that have evidence of their claims.
Copper Joint’s line of compression gloves are infused with copper ions. The benefits of copper for improving blood flow are anecdotal and not really supported by research at this time. However, the antimicrobial benefits of copper are well-known and studied.
I was given a pair of these gloves by Copper Joint to try for myself. While I don’t suffer from arthritic pain, I often experience some pain and mild swelling in my hands when I drive for long periods of time. So, to test them out, I wore them for a week at my medical equipment job.
These copper compression arthritis gloves are made from copper-infused nylon and spandex blend. The nylon is soft and comfortable and the added copper ions provide an antimicrobial benefit killing 99.9% of microbes for 40 washes. This means you can wear them longer between washing because there will be less germ activity and odor. I did find them comfortable to wear for 8 hours plus at a time.
Another thing I really liked about the Copper Joint copper compression glove were the rubber grips on the palm. Because nylon can be a bit slick, this made it easier to hold onto items I was carrying. If you are self-conscious about wearing gloves like these, this also helps make them look more like a normal glove.
The gloves are lightweight and not bulky, so you could easily wear them under another pair of gloves in the winter. They come in black only and are available as fingerless arthritis gloves, wrist sleeves, wrist sleeves with thumb support, and in wrist bands too. They also make a full line of copper compression socks too!
They come in 4 sizes so you can get the right fit for the right amount of compression. They offer a 30 day satisfaction guarantee too so that you can try them out risk-free!
Chances are you’ve gotten a pair of Isotoner gloves as a gift in the past. So you are probably already familiar with this brand which is known for high quality gloves and slippers.
But, they also make a high quality line of therapeutic arthritis compression gloves too. These gloves offer moderate compression through a nylon/spandex fabric blend and come in 4 sizes so that you can get the right fit and feel.
What I like about these gloves is that they really took time to think through proper seam placement. They have located all the seams where they won’t place additional pressure on inflamed knuckles and joints. The smooth side of the seam also goes on the inside which is why they have a bit of a “turned inside out” appearance. This is intentional.
They come in both the open finger design and full fingered styles, are machine washable, but are available only in the beige color. Actual user reviews on the site are extremely positive – 4.7 out of 5 at the time of this writing – much better than any of the gloves available on Amazon!
If you are thinking about trying out a pair of compression gloves for the first time and maybe don’t want to put a bunch of money into them, take a look at this arthritis compression glove from Vive Health. They are inexpensive (usually less than $10) but people rave about them.
These gloves are made of a cotton/polyester/spandex blend and have a softer, knappier feel than some of the other gloves I’ve discussed. The spandex provides the compression while the cotton adds softness and warmth to the gloves. While they are lightweight and breathable, note that cotton may absorb water if you sweat a lot or are around water a lot during the day.
Adding to the comfort, they use a smart seam stitching process to minimize irritation and discomfort caused by seams rubbing painful parts of your hand.
They come in a open finger tip style, are latex-free, are machine washable and come in 5 different sizes. These are one of the few gloves that have color choices: black, gray, and pink.
The Vive glove also has variations with rubberized grips if you wear yours while working and need that option. They even make a copper arthritis glove too. You can see their entire line of arthritis gloves here.
The ComfyBrace gloves are the best selling arthritis gloves on Amazon at the time I am writing this.
They are made of a proprietary fabric blend that is breathable, moisture wicking and soft too. My research didn’t uncover the exact fabric composition so ComfyBrace must be keeping that a secret! The cuff extends far enough to help with carpal tunnel pain and the fingers stop at about the 2nd knuckle.
Users report these gloves are soft and comfortable and feel like a favorite T-shirt. They also comment that they don’t make their hands sweat like some of the other gloves.
ComfyBrace did a great job on the seams and hems of their gloves because they are nearly invisible. So if you have sensitive arthritic hands that could be aggravated by seams, you might want to take a closer look at these.
The gloves come in three sizes and are NOT machine washable – hand wash only. They do come with a lifetime replacement warranty and a no questions asked satisfaction guarantee.
These gloves are another popular seller on Amazon and claim to be developed by medical doctors. They include a handbook, written by doctors, on managing arthritis hand pain with every purchase.
They are made from a cotton/nylon/spandex blend with a soft feel. They will keep your arthritic hands warm too while also letting them breathe to reduce sweating and potential odor build up.
While these are the open finger design, the fingers of the gloves are longer than some of the others and come up to the first knuckle better. Many people with osteoarthritis seem to have pain and swelling more towards the tips of their fingers than their palms. They provide a good squeeze and support for the wrist as well.
They come in 5 sizes and in the gray color only. They do offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee but the time limit is not specified.
The IMAK compression arthritis gloves are another popular glove choice because they have earned the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease of Use Commendation for their design. They were designed by an orthopedic surgeon to relieve stiffness and swelling in the joints through gentle compression.
They are made of the familiar cotton/spandex blend that many of these gloves are made from and come in the speckled gray color as well. There are 5 size choices too so that you can make sure they fit correctly and they are machine washable.
Reading the user reviews of these gloves, I noticed a pattern of complaints about the hems and seam stitching coming loose over time. The stitching around the finger edges is oversewn and not hemmed – seems like the seams have a tendency to loosen up.
These compression gloves use a different material and work a little differently than the others. Thermoskin is a manufacturer of sports related compression products for improving sports injuries and supporting sports related injuries.
These gloves feature their Trioxon fabric which has been clinically proven (according to their website) to increase the temperature of your skin and muscles. But, while they do increase the temperature, they are also designed to be breathable and insulating at the same time.
The Thermoskin glove is constructed a bit differently too. Rather than being a “tube” of fabric that molds around your hand, these are cut and sewn to anatomically mimic the shape of your hand. This evens out the compression and spreads it across the entire surface of your hands and fingers.
But this can make them a bit more difficult to put on even though there are benefits to it. So, it’s critical you take the time to order the correct size. The wrist cuff is also opened and closed with a strap which makes them easier to put on.
They come in 6 sizes and have a textured grippy surface, but are available in black only.
Dr Frederick’s Compression Gloves are made of a blend of cotton, polyester, and spandex which provides softness and a mild compression. The fingertips are a bit more exposed with these than some of the others which is good for people who need access to their fingertips for typing or other activities.
The gloves have special channels in the sides of the finger that reduce pinching of the blood vessels in your fingers. (The blood supply to your fingertips runs up the sides of your fingers.) The thumb fabric is also cut in a special way to support the base of your thumb which is a common pain point for many people.
Finally, for people who use compression gloves for carpal tunnel syndrome pain relief, these gloves have an extended cuff for support below the wrist.
These gloves are machine washable and are the familiar speckled gray color. But they only come in 3 sizes so people with the smallest or largest hands may not get the best fit.
I wanted to include a vibrating glove option for you and there weren’t too many choices to consider.
These gloves use vibration technology to stimulate blood flow in your skin, muscles and tendon to provide relief for arthritis and other painful hand conditions. There are three vibration intensity settings to match your preference. It is recommended that they be used for 2 20-30 minute sessions a day.
A full charge lasts about 40 minutes and they are rechargeable using a mini USB cable.
The gloves themselves are made of a cotton blend fabric and are much thicker than a standard compression glove. This is because they have to incorporate the mechanics of the vibration function. While they are comfortable, you don’t want to use them when you have something to do with your hands.
They come in 3 sizes and tend to run small. There are also multiple complaints on Amazon that they could not be returned even if they didn’t fit.
Personally, if you want to try vibration therapy for hand pain relief, I think you’d be better served with a hand massager like the Lunix LX3 at Amazon.
This glove option is newer to the market and contains soft hemp fibers which are naturally absorbent and breathable for all-day (or all-night) comfort. The total fabric blend is 80% cotton / 11% spandex / and 9% hemp. Multiple reviewers mentioned they liked these better than other options they have tried because they didn’t make their hands sweat.
They only come in two sizes though but are machine washable for easy maintenance.
How Do Compression Gloves Work?
It has long been known in the medical community that compression (aka light pressure or squeezing) increases blood flow in the compressed area. Increasing blood flow to an area also leads to better oxygenation of the tissues and reduces inflammation and edema (aka swelling).
Hot, red and inflamed tissues are a common cause of pain in our bodies. Providing compression reduces this inflammation and promotes healing. The benefits seem to increase when heat is provided in addition to the compression.
So, if you suffer from the common arthritis symptoms of joint pain, inflammation, and edema and over use like carpal tunnel, you’ll need to find a way to provide this mild compression.
A therapeutic glove that provides mild compression is a convenient way to do this because they can be slipped on and off easily. This provides relief when you need it and lets you quickly discontinue the therapy if you need to. This also lets your hand function with support and less pain.
Therapy gloves have been shown to be particularly helpful for rheumatoid arthritis pain in a study by National Institutes of Health.
Uses of Compression Gloves
There are many conditions that can benefit from the pain relief that compression gloves can provide. Here are the most common conditions that compression gloves seem to help with:
- Inflammatory arthritis pain especially Rheumatoid Arthritis pain
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Overuse and Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)
- Poor blood circulation in the hand and fingers
- Edema and swelling in the hands
- Joint Pain
Here are some activities that tend to aggravate hand pain. Try wearing compression gloves while doing these activities for less pain and better joint mobility.
- Knitting or Crocheting
- Playing music
- Working Out
RELATED: Ways to Relieve Arthritic Hand Pain
Types of Compression Gloves
When shopping for compression gloves, you should familiarize yourself with the many options available on the market. Here are the most common types of compression gloves:
Standard Compression Gloves
The standard compression glove looks like a snugger but thinner version of a standard glove and comes with or without finger coverage. Most are made of a soft fabric like cotton or nylon and have spandex added to provide the compression. They should fit snuggly but not tight.
Heated Compression Gloves
Another option is gloves that are heated usually using infrared or battery powered heating cables. This type of glove may provide benefits due the increased heat which increases blood flow.
It’s worth noting that many compression gloves increase your skin temperature also because of the materials they are made of, i.e. cotton, nylon, polyester.
Vibrating Compression Gloves
These gloves are also usually battery powered with small vibrating motors in them that stimulate blood flow. The sellers of these gloves also claim that they disrupt pain signals by providing a sensory distraction. I couldn’t find any independent studies that verify this claim.
Copper Infused Compression Gloves
Copper gloves are another area where some of the claims cannot be verified. While it is true that copper ions do have an anti-microbial benefit, there hasn’t been any proof that the copper itself stimulates blood flow even though some people absolutely swear by them.
If you will be wearing the gloves frequently and your hands sweat, you may want to consider copper gloves – but only because of the antimicrobial benefits and nothing else.
Alternatives to Compression Gloves
If your pain is localized in the wrist or fingers and you don’t want to wear full gloves, compression wrist sleeves or finger wraps might be an idea for you to consider.
Features of Compression Gloves
Here’s a quick rundown of the features and option you’ll see when shopping for therapeutic arthritis gloves
It is crucial that compression gloves fit you properly to get the maximum benefit. They should be snug without being constricting. If they are too loose, they won’t provide the necessary compression. If they are too tight, they may be uncomfortable to wear and could cut off circulation rather than improve blood flow.
Most glove manufacturers will tell you to measure the width of your hand across the palm at your knuckles. Then you compare that measurement against their size chart to order the right size. Pay close attention though because some will want you to measure all the way around your hand instead.
Most gloves are made of a cotton/spandex blend which provides softness plus the needed compression. Some are made of nylon and spandex which seem to have a longer life than the cotton versions. Newer fabrics have recently come onto the market that include hemp and other proprietary fabrics. Hemp in particular is known for its absorbency and breathability but there aren’t many choices in that area to date.
Open Fingers or Full Coverage
Most arthritis gloves come in the open finger design. Think of these as gloves that have had the fingertips cut off of them. Because it is suggested that you wear these gloves for 8 hours at a time, choosing a fingerless glove allows you to use your phone or tablet, type, etc. without having to take them off.
There are also full coverage options as well. This style is better for people who have pain in the 1st knuckle and need their fingers fully covered. If you go this route, choose ones that have some sort of grip built-in into them.
Speaking of grips, several arthritis glove choices have rubber or silicone grips built into them that allow you to grab and hold onto items better. This is good for people who use pens or other hand and finger held tools throughout the day.
Stitch and Seam Location
If you have hands that are pressure or touch sensitive, pay attention to where the seams are on the glove. Some manufacturers intentionally locate their seams away from joints and it shows in their design – like the Isotoner gloves specifically.
Warranty and Satisfaction Guarantee
Because there are several glove manufacturers that make dubious claims at best, choose a glove that comes with some sort or satisfaction guarantee. You want to be able to return them if they don’t meet the claims made. Note this is different from a warranty which only covers manufacturer defects – it won’t help if you just aren’t happy with them.
When Should You Wear Compression Gloves and For How Long?
Web MD recommends always wearing arthritis gloves for 8 hours and goes on to say that you probably won’t get any benefits if you only wear them occasionally for an hour or two at a time.
So, if the recommendation is to wear them for 8 hours, when is the best time to do it? Wearing arthritis gloves while you are sleeping seems to be a common suggestion by healthcare professionals. Wearing them at night seems to have some very specific benefits too.
In a study published by the National Institutes of Health about the efficacy of compression gloves for rheumatoid arthritis patients, they showed relief of morning hand stiffness and a slight reduction in hand swelling when the gloves were worn all night.
Another possibility is to wear them while you are at work or during other activities you enjoy. The most popular arthritis gloves come in fingerless options where the finger tips are exposed which lets you grasp small objects and manipulate them too.
My hope is that you have a much better understanding of how these compression gloves work when it comes to relieving the painful symptoms of arthritis or carpal tunnel or overuse injuries like RSI. You should also have an idea of which style suits your personal needs best.
Do you have any experience with compression gloves that you’d like to share? Any gloves you have used that were particularly helpful or didn’t work at all? Tell me about it in the comments below!