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Trigger Finger and Acupuncture: A Natural Treatment and Quick Recovery

Trigger Finger

Trigger finger and acupuncture: A natural treatment and Quick recovery

When Andrea came into my clinic, she had just had a newborn baby last three weeks. She had woken up three days prior and felt stiffness in her hand: locking up her 4th fingers with throbbing pain. She couldn’t straighten up her finger by itself and had to use her other hand to assist in straight up her finger. She thought it would be better to rest, but it didn’t. It got worse, and she rushed to the hospital. After a quick examination, Andrea discovered she had a Trigger finger.

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What is a Trigger finger?

Her doctor explained that the trigger finger was a condition that affected the flexor muscles in the hand, causing inflammation and pain in the finger. The inflammation of the tendon sheath is caused by many reasons, such as overuse of the hand, hormone imbalance, arthritis of the joint, diabetes, muscle tightness, and so on.

In between tendons and tendon sheath, it has lubricated. Because it has lubricated, you can bend your finger smoothly: Gripping the fist, opening the palm, playing the instruments, typing, writing, and so forth. The tendon sheath gets inflamed or swollen in the trigger finger and stucks when you move your fingers.

This causes pain whenever you move your fingers, and most likely, your finger gets stuck in one position.

What causes trigger fingers?

While most may not know, women in 50s are, in fact, at higher risk for trigger fingers than men. The time frame of greater risk for developing it is post-pregnancy or menopause.

There is no conclusive answer regarding what causes the finger tendons to become inflamed or swollen. They associate it with an imbalance of women’s hormones, arthrisitis, diabetes, or overuse – but there are theories and no concrete causes.

How long does it take to recover from a trigger finger?

Andrea’s doctor told her that she should be able to start noticing improvements within a few weeks and make a significant to complete recovery within months. Andrea was prescribed corticosteroid and could leave the hospital the same day. If the treatment don’t work, then she might have to consider having a surgery to cut off the sheath to make the tendon moves smoothly.

She couldn’t physically hold her baby due to pain. It was overwhelming and not the way she had imagined starting parenthood.

Upon the suggestion of her chiropractor, Andrea decided to add Acupuncture to her recovery protocol. She had heard positive things about it and was all for trying something else that might speed up her recovery.

Trigger Finger Treatment

It is important to note that the earlier you treat the trigger finger, the more likely you will recover fully. It is recommended to start treatment within the first three weeks of symptoms onset, regardless of whether you are doing conventional western or eastern treatments like Acupuncture.

In Andrea’s case, she had come to the clinic in the third week after the onset of her symptoms.

Is Acupuncture Effective for Trigger finger?

During Andrea’s initial acupuncture session, we examined her finger and muscle tightness in the flexor muscles. She could not grip her fist or straighten up her 4th finger. On top of this, she had a throbbing pain around her fist. We agreed on a treatment course of Acupuncture once a week for four weeks.

The treatments focused on reducing the tendon inflammation and swelling and restoring movement in her finger without locking up the joint. Acupuncture has been shown in many studies to be incredibly practical at reducing pain and inflammation in the body due to its ability to stimulate the body to release its natural painkillers.

A week after her first acupuncture treatment, Andrea was showing promising progress. The finger pain was down by 60%, and she could move her finger without locking it up. By the end of the 3rd week, the finger pain was almost gone, and she could grip her fist. Most significant, however, was that she could play the piano again for 30 minutes without pain.

Within three weeks, Andrea’s finger looked back to normal, and she was close to 90% recovered in terms of finger mobility.

The knot in hand was the last stage of recovery, which was achieved fully by the end of the 5th week of the treatment.

After two months of treatment, Andrea had completely recovered and no longer needed treatments.

She can hold her baby and play the piano as much as she wants.

When Should I start Acupuncture?

A significant part of Andrea’s success was her ability to receive treatments within three weeks of the trigger finger onset. As a general rule of thumb, the sooner one receives treatment, the better the prognosis.

There are patients who come for trigger finger treatment months or even years after the original onset. These chronic cases are often more complex and take a much greater length of time to achieve results. Even then, recovery is not guaranteed.

Regarding the frequency of treatments, Acupuncture follows a simple rule. Acute and relatively new conditions are most effectively treated with more frequent visits, whereas chronic and old conditions can benefit from more widespread treatments. In other words, if you just had an onset of trigger finger, you will probably be prescribed 2-3 treatments per week in order to get the most effective results, and chronic cases will generally come in only once a week.

If you or a loved one was diagnosed with a trigger finger and want to learn more about Acupuncture and whether it’s appropriate for your case, send us a message through our contact page.

I hope it helps.


Satoru Ozawa, L.Ac, ATC

Pursuing Your Health is Our Passion

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