Friday, May 18, 2012

Product review: Tommie Copper compression gear, post-surgery

So, really, it was pretty ridiculous....

There I was, just a few days out of extremely invasive elbow surgery -- open capsular release with transposition of the ulnar nerve, if you really need to know -- and my heavily wrapped elbow and I were sitting down with a cup of coffee, about to turn on Morning Joe on MSNBC.

But the channel selector was on something else from the night before, probably a network that had a hockey game on, but now it had an infomercial. And the infomercial was all about compression sleeves that aid mobility. And at that moment they were focused on elbows. And at that moment, if I believed in higher powers controlling TV channels, I would have bought right into the notion that this infomercial was on there specifically for me.

Oh yeah, just to push the mounting over-the-top-ness of it all to the breaking point, Montel Williams was hawking the stuff.

It's called Tommie Copper gear.

They showed compression sleeves for (almost) every body part. Elbows, knees, wrists, shoulders (via a shirt), ankles, calves, fingers, wrists. And of course they had guys my age, formerly hampered with mobility issues, leaping around like some sort of faith healer had performed a miracle on them. But nothing of the sort was afoot. Rather, their newfound mobility was all thanks to Tommie Copper.

I was skeptical to the point of laughing.

But I was also a little susceptible to the wily ways of the infomercial at the time. I knew a few things: (1) mobility was my friend; I was supposed to get this arm moving as soon as possible; (2) I wasn't mobile at all at the time; (3) my arm was swollen as hell with fluid, so compression sounded like a good idea, but heavy compression sounded uncomfortable, and so the advertised "light"-feel of this stuff sounded appealing; (4) they were also claiming that copper, infused into the material of the sleeve, aided in healing.

Honestly, that last bit sounded ridiculous. But I liked the other points. I figured the combo of the reduced swelling and increased mobility, if true, was worth the price. The copper-based healing? Uhhhh, whatever. If true, cool, but I wasn't gonna hold my breath on that one.

So I ordered. I ordered two. I figured that if it worked, I was going to need to wear it a lot, so cleanliness issues would arise if I only owned one.

Plus Montel promised me free shipping if I ordered two. I virtually patted his bald noggin for good luck and hit "purchase" on the interwebs.

A few days later, my sleeves arrived. At that point, my elbow was still really swollen, and the stitches were in. I put on one of the sleeves, and....

Holy juicy elbows, Batman. Fluid started draining out like crazy. I ended up swapping the sleeves out every few hours for the first few days. Swelling went down, and the arm just plain felt better with the sleeve on. It drained so much fluid out that I had to actually stop wearing it for a few days so the wound would close fully. Then I started up again. 24 hours a day or as close as I could to that.

I kept wearing them. And, invariably, it feels better with the sleeve on. The swelling is way down now -- almost two months out of surgery-- but if I sleep without the sleeve, I wake up with a stiff, painful arm at some point. If I use the sleeve, mobility is better. If I use it at the gym, it feels better. If I forget it, it feels worse.

So, what's the deal? I have no idea, but I like it. Is the copper actually promoting healing? I have no idea, but my surgeon and my physical therapist tell me I am way ahead of schedule on mobility increases and pain decreases.

I *can* tell you this: the compression aspect of this thing is wonderful. It has a light feel to it, but is clearly compressing the area, and I can move so much better with it on. Drumming, weightlifting, whatever. It is all better with the sleeve on, in terms of mobility. And pain is way down with it on. It is, dare I say, *soothing* to wear the thing.

But, seriously, I have no idea if the copper part of it is doing anything. On the other hand, the only way to find out would be to swap it out for some tighter, non-coppery one, and, um, no thanks. I like this one.

So.... All I can say is that if I were having surgery again, I would wear one of these on the surgical area, post-op, assuming my doc was cool with it. Everything is better with it on.

Thanks, TC. It was a good purchase.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. I'm pleased to read that this gadget brought you such relief (though your observation that 'fluid started draining out of it like crazy' was a bit disturbing.). Eeew! A couple of doctors I've worked with have made cautious claims for the effects of copper - seems it's not just an old wives' tale.

    I mistakenly read your strapline as 'Tommy Cooper compression gear', though, which brought a whole series of bizarre images to my mind. I don't think the name Tommy Cooper will mean much to a Statesider, but for any Brit the associations are unavoidable. He was a much-loved and highly idiosyncratic English comedian. Stick his name into YouTube if you can be bothered and you'll see why someone like me might have had an odd reaction...

  2. Wow... He collapsed and died on live TV! What a story. I am well-versed in Monty Python and Fawlty Towers, but, sadly, not TC.

  3. Yes, it was extraordinary, especially as the show was being transmitted live on national TV. I was watching it with my mother, and we assumed he was just messing about as he sank to the floor of the stage. Then the curtain came down...

  4. I had a knee operation 10 days ago and the stitches were taken out last week. I saw the infomercial for this product and since I respect Montel Williams, I figured I would give it a try. The only real pain I have been having is the tightness around the knee since the operation and would feel the cramping especially when walking. I received the Tommy Copper knee brace today and as soon as I put it on, I felt an immediate difference and the cramping went away instantly. All I can say is WOW........I go to therapy tomorrow and will show my therapist the difference that I'm feeling.

  5. I recieved my shirt and gloves 2 days ago and the results where disappointing to say the least. Not that I was that surprised since I have tried numerous gadgets and gimmicks to try and relieve chronic influmation in my left shoulder and none of it has worked. I am really tired of spending good money trying to get a little relief and much needed sleep only to be ripped off once again by an overpaid celebrity. Neither the shirt or the gloves did anything.

  6. Steven: How long did you have it on? usually it takes your body some time to get used to it..
    Try it for few hrs. take off and try again. Did you sleep in it??
    Good luck!!

    1. i have had chronic pain in my lower back and three neck fusions.Too many years of pain meds. This product worked for me within the first 24 hours. You really must wear it 24/7 to give it the Chance you deserve

  7. I am suffering arthritis, and woke up *again* in pain this morning, turned on the TV, just in time, and just on the "right" channel to be on a Tommycopper infomercial, discussing arthritis pain...It was near the end of the infomercial, and it made me curious enough to be doing Web research for reviews NOT from the tommycopper website...Your review is like many others I've been finding on the web, positive.

    As anyone suffering chronic pain will testify, the higher cost is negligible if the promise of pain relief is verifiable. THANK you for this account. PLEASE UPDATE us on how you are now doing, and what your current opinion is of the tommycopper products.

  8. Just posted a new/updated review this morning.

  9. I have been wanting to purchase one for my elbow...but I would really like a little clarification. Does the product only eliminate pain when wearing it, or does it work to actually strengthen and heal the area so that you can eventually not rely on the product as much?

  10. I don't think it strengthens it, but I think it improves healing by improving circulation.

  11. I Do want to try it, I have Do much pain in my back and legs,I'm willin to

  12. Im having knee replacement surgery on August 29th 2013 im scared out if my mind and sleeping less and less the closer the date gets however my problem isnt just the knee cap but I also have vascular issues wondering if I would still beable to use this product with some pain relief for my leg would order if this can happen please email me at thank you patti

  13. I have severe fybromyalgia, have to hold in to something and stand still for a minute when i first stand up before my hios and knees will engage. I want to try the pant to cover both areas, except i have a colostomy so can't have pressure on my abdomen. Has anyone tried the pant? How much pressure does it put on the abdomen?

  14. I have tried the pant coupled with two ankle sleeves. I suffer from ankle, knee and hip pain and this product helped me tremendously.

  15. If you are diabetic and have had 2 back surgeries with rods and screws in your back and suffer from constant pain in your back and legs from nerve damage, scar tissue, and arthritis will this product help?

  16. Wow, that was really helpful Steve. In case you think this is some kind of prank I can assure you it's not. My name is Sandra Laborde and I was asking for my husband. What exactly does this product help with?

  17. You know what's nice? To find a comment on my blog criticizing me as not "helpful" when I said I had "no idea" whether a particular product could help a particular medical condition.

    Folks, I love questions. And I am happy to answer if I have the answer, and also I will tell you when I really don't know the answer. If I respond to an inquiry with, "No idea," it isn't code for something else. It means I really don't know and wouldn't want to mislead you with a guess at the answer.