Trigger finger, (or the bigger mouthful, stenosing tenosynovitis), happens when the sheath surrounding the tendon within the palm of the hand narrows. The tendons located there attach a muscle of the forearm to the bones of a finger. When the muscle contracts, it pulls on the tendon, which must glide through the synovium inside the sheath to move the finger. Constriction may stop this movement, leaving the finger stuck in a bent position. If forced, the finger may snap straight but use of the finger will obviously be awkward and difficult, and the forcing can be painful. Sometimes the finger becomes locked in a straight position. Joint contraction or stiffening may eventually occur.
People that typically get trigger finger are factory workers, carpenters, farmers, and musicians as they rely on their fingers or thumbs for multiple repetitive movements. Trigger finger is also more common in women than in men and usually occurs most frequently in people the ages of 40 and 60.
One of the first symptoms of trigger finger may be soreness at the base of the finger or thumb, on the palm of the hand. The most common symptom is a painful clicking or snapping when attempting to flex or extend the affected finger. This catching sensation tends to worsen after periods of inactivity and loosen up with movement. If the area becomes inflamed from overuse (or from already existing inflammatory conditions in your body such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout), the tendon can no longer glide easily and sometimes scars, thickens or forms nodules.
Some cases are resolved with prolonged rest of the hand, especially the affected finger. In most cases, your doctor will suggest that you rest the hand for a few weeks, keeping it elevated and using it only when necessary. Some cases of trigger finger are simply from repetitive overuse (strenuous use of power tools from being a Weekend Warrior on your house, for example) and don’t reoccur. But often the swelling and locking can become advanced, and severe pain is experienced, and gripping becomes difficult if not impossible.
However, as with many soft tissue disorders of the hand, acupuncture can assist healing and return to function while providing pain relief. The length of time the patient has had this condition will help determine how long the treatments may take, and the course of treatment will depend on the severity of the condition, but acupuncture is certainly a viable option of treatment that will leave you free of the potential side effects and scarring posed by drugs and surgery. No side effects! No scars!
There are a number of acupuncture points can be found on the hand and are used to relieve symptoms of a trigger finger. Some are located between each finger at their base and located at the fingertips and are used in cases of severe pain. Points on the sides of the fingers are also used for a variety of problems affecting the fingers, including pain and swelling. In addition to acupuncture points on the hand, points at the wrist and along the arm which fall on the meridian/pathway related to the affected finger are also needled and stimulated for relief.
Consider giving acupuncture a try as an alternative method of treatment that treats the whole body and restores balance — bullseye!
For more information, visit www.ctacupuncture.com
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