I'm wondering if it's a good idea to get an acupuncture for a thumb tendon. I recently injured myself two weeks ago and recently increased in pain with burning sensation to numbness on my right thumb index finger and slightly on my middle finger goin

We are sorry to hear that you are faced with such a long wait for a specialist opinion. All we can say with certainty is that acupuncture is very probably not going to make things any worse and may well help to address the symptoms and reduce the pain.

The theory of acupuncture, as you have probably read, is about the flow of energy, which we call 'qi', and its correct balance and flow within the body. Essentially all of the theory boils down to techniques to understand how and where blockages and imbalances arise, and skills with needles and moxa to reinstate the normal flow. The simple underlying premise is that where energy flows as it should then everything should function as it is supposed to.

When people have accidents there is often inflammation and deep bruising which from a Chinese medicine perspective can mean a blockage in the flow of energy which is more than the body can correct. Sometimes this is a local problem, but at other times it may be indicative of a general weakening of the system which means that there isn't enough energy to sort out the body's more peripheral problems . The great strength of Chinese medicine is that it can look at the overall context rather than simply picking off symptoms one at a time.

Soaking your hands in ice cold water no doubt does help, mainly by providing a temporary deadening of the sensation, but we would advise any patient to be cautious about doing this for too long after an injury. It is always helpful to apply ice straight away to stop excessive swelling, but after a while the repeated cooling actually starts to work against the body, causing the stuck energy to become even more stuck. If you are going to use cold we suggest that you alternate with some heat to try to encourage flow as well. Alternating hot and cold is the option many physios will recommend to people with injuries.

The best advice that we can give is that you visit a BAcC member local to you for an informal assessment of whether acupuncture might be a good idea. Most members are happy to give up a little time without charge to see a problem in the flesh and advise on whether acupuncture treatment might help, and this is your best route. It's a pity we don't know more about the nature of your accident, whether it results from a sprain or a fall. However, the fact that the pain is referring up the arm could be indicative either of nerve impingement (from a western medicine perspective) or a blockage in the flow of energy in the channels (from a Chinese medicine perspective), both of which are more encouraging in terms of potential recovery. we certainly hope so.

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