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Q. I am suffering from 1 trigger finger in each hand. Whilst one almost seems to be improving, the other is definitely getting worse. I am not over-keen to have a cortisone injection and wondered if acupuncture might help. If so, it would be helpful to have a guide as to how many sessions might be required.

 

A. The evidence for the use of acupuncture in the treatment of trigger finger is very thin, not because it doesn't work, but simply because it has not been well researched. The kind of problem which it represents can be described in the concepts and language of Chinese medicine, and this may offer a range of possible interventions. The majority of these will involve local needling but may also involve the treatment of the whole system if this is seen to be a specific occurrence of a much more widespread condition which causes tightness in tendons across the body.

For cases such as yours there is no substitute for visiting one of our members local to you to see exactly how your particular problem presents and whether in their view it may be treatable. We are certainly aware of members who have used direct treatment of the affected digits and stretching exercises to good effect but some cases may be more likely to respond than others, and it would require someone to see the finger before giving an informed assessment.

 

There is no easy way to estimate how many sessions will be required. What we ask members to do is to set measurable outcomes and to make sure that they review progress regularly to ensure that the patient is happy continuing treatment. Most practitioners set four or five sessions as the point at which to take a good look at progress and to decide how sustainable any achieved changes are.

 

The fact that one of the two problem fingers has started to mend is a very positive sign. However, there is no doubt that cortisone can be very effective, and there may come a point where it might be unwise not to seek the relief that this may offer.