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HealthInfo West Coast-Te Tai Poutini

Living with carpal tunnel syndrome

There are several treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as things you can do yourself to help make it better.

What can I do about carpal tunnel syndrome?

See your GP

Talk to your GP about treating any other conditions that could be causing or making it worse. This could include:

Avoid or reduce hand and wrist activities that may make it worse

Repetitive or heavy activities using your wrist – such as pruning, house building, wringing out wet clothes, or holding heavy trays and dishes – can make carpal tunnel syndrome worse. Try to avoid or cut down on these tasks if possible.

FDP carpal tunnelCheck your general posture. Slouching, and how you hold your wrists when doing things like working at a desk or reading can make it worse.

Wrist splints

Wrist splints can help, especially at night and for certain activities. It's important that the splint holds your wrist in the correct, neutral position. Many wrist splints hold your wrist at a slight angle.

A physiotherapist can get you a properly fitted wrist splint, and can also help you with your general posture and the way you hold your wrist. Some pharmacies have wrist splints, as does West Coast DHB's Orthotics Department. If you are referred through the hospital, these may be publicly funded, otherwise you may have to pay. Phone (03) 769‑7400 ext 2866.

Who can help?

General practice team

If you need to find a GP, you can search on Healthpages.

Your GP will be able to talk to you about treating and managing any underlying conditions that may be making your carpal tunnel syndrome worse, and prescribe appropriate pain relief.

Your GP may also be able to give you steroid injections for carpal tunnel syndrome. Steroid injections often ease the pain and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. For some people the relief is long-lasting, especially if you haven't had carpal tunnel syndrome for long, or you have a mild case. If you have had it for longer than six months or have severe symptoms, steroid injections are likely to give only temporary relief. Local specialists say that most people should have no more than three steroid injections.

If your GP is not experienced in giving steroid injections, they can refer you to another GP who is.

Grey Base Hospital plastic surgery and orthopaedic surgery services

If appropriate your GP can refer you to either the plastic surgery or orthopaedic surgery service.

You may choose to pay to see a private plastic surgeon or a private orthopaedic surgeon. You may also see a private neurosurgeon in Christchurch.

Hand therapist or physiotherapist

If your surgeon or GP recommends you see a physiotherapist, you may be able to receive publicly funded treatment at a West Coast DHB physiotherapy clinic.

You may wish to pay to see a private hand therapist or physiotherapist in Christchurch. Private physiotherapists are also available in Nelson and Wanaka.

On the next page: Surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome

Information provided by the Canterbury DHB. Adapted by the West Coast DHB. Last reviewed April 2017.

See also:

Preparing for your doctor's visit


Page reference: 208203

Review key: HICTS-12821