August 2, 2023
Andrea is an amazing pianist who spends 2-3 hours practicing her craft daily. One night, she went to sleep after a long day of playing the piano. The next morning, she woke up with a sore hand and realized that her ring finger was stuck in a bent position, causing her a lot of pain. Even after trying to warm up and shake her hand, the stiffness didn’t go away.
She was having trouble straightening her finger without help from her other hand, which was causing her a lot of frustration. Even though she tried to rest it, her condition didn’t get any better and actually got worse. She decided to seek medical attention and found out after a brief exam that she had Trigger Finger.
If you have a trigger finger, it can be pretty uncomfortable since it causes pain and inflammation in your finger. This happens because it affects the flexor muscles in your hand. These muscles are responsible for movement in your fingers. The tendons and tendon sheath in your hand are lubricated to allow for smooth movement, which is crucial for daily activities like typing, writing, and gripping. However, if the tendon sheath gets inflamed or swollen, it can cause popping, clicking, catching, or locking. You sometimes feel a tender nodule at the base of the finger. This can make it difficult to move your finger, which can be very frustrating.
While most may not know, women in their 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.
It’s not entirely clear what causes inflammation or swelling of the tendons in our fingers. Experts believe that it could be due to hormonal imbalances in women, arthritis, diabetes, or overuse. However, there’s no conclusive evidence yet to point to a definite cause.
According to studies, 86% of individuals with trigger fingers experience recovery after receiving two steroid injections. Andrea’s doctor informed her that she would start seeing improvements in a few weeks and make a significant recovery within months. She could leave the hospital on the same day after receiving the first injection in her ring finger. If the steroid injection doesn’t work, she might have to consider having surgery.
Andrea hesitated to undergo surgery, so she took her chiropractor’s advice and incorporated Acupuncture into her recovery plan. She had heard good things about this alternative treatment. She was eager to give it a try to potentially accelerate her recovery.
Treating the trigger finger early is crucial for the best chance of full recovery. Starting treatment within the first three weeks of symptom onset is recommended, regardless of whether you choose conventional Western medicine or Eastern treatments like acupuncture.
When Andrea noticed her symptoms, she decided to visit the clinic during the third week.
At Andrea’s first acupuncture appointment, we assessed the tightness in her flexor muscles and her difficulty with gripping her fist and straightening her ring finger. Additionally, she was experiencing throbbing pain near her fist. We mutually decided on a treatment plan of weekly acupuncture sessions for a total of four weeks.
The treatments aim to reduce inflammation and swelling in the tendon and restore movement in the finger without causing joint stiffness. Numerous studies have proven that acupuncture is highly effective at alleviating pain and inflammation by stimulating the release of natural painkillers.
Andrea made notable progress after her first week of acupuncture treatment. Her finger pain was reduced by 60%, and she was able to move her finger without it locking up. By the end of the third week, her finger pain had almost disappeared, and she could grip her fist. The best part was that she could play the piano for 30 minutes without feeling any pain.
After three weeks, Andrea’s finger had returned to its normal appearance and regained about 90% of her finger’s mobility.
By the end of the fifth week of treatment, Andrea’s hand was nodule-free and fully recovered after two months. No more treatments were required for her.
One of the reasons for Andrea’s success was her ability to get treatment for her trigger finger within three weeks of it starting. It’s generally better to receive treatment as soon as possible for a better chance of recovery.
It’s essential for patients to seek treatment for trigger fingers early to avoid dealing with more complex cases that could take longer to recover from. It’s worth noting that even with treatment, there’s no guarantee of a complete recovery.
When it comes to acupuncture treatments, the frequency really depends on what’s going on with your body. If you’re dealing with a new and acute condition, you might need to come in more often to get the best results. On the other hand, if you’ve been dealing with something for a while, you might not need to come in as frequently. For example, if you’ve got a trigger finger that’s just starting to act up, you could benefit from 2-3 treatments each week. But if you’ve got a more chronic case, you might only need to come in once a week to see improvements.
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
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