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Would acupuncturist help for trigger thumb?

A:  It is no surprise to us that there is little or no research published in English about the use of acupuncture treatment for trigger thumb. The vast majority of case are treated rapidly and successfully with steroid injections, and the important task is to determine whether it is a single problem in itself or whether it is the tip of a much larger iceberg for a condition like rheumatood arthritis. We are sure, though, that your GP will almost certainly have made this assessment when he or she saw you.
 
We do find that many people, however, try to avoid steroid injections because while they work, they can often need to be repeated and there is usually a limit to the number of injections that one can have in a specific area of the body, usually two or three. Many people want to find a solution that is as effective and can be repeated, and there are a number routes like diet and massage which are popular complementary approaches to the problem.
 
As far as acupuncture treatment is concerned, our systems of medicine are premised on the flow of an energy called 'qi' in Chinese whose steady flow, rhythm and balance ensure the health and good functioning of both the internal organs and the musculo-skeletal structure. When the flow is interrupted or blocked for any reason, symptoms will appear, and not necessarily only at the site of the blockage. A systemic problem, for example, could lead to the appearance of a number of problems throughout the body, and the skill of the practitioner lies in being able to assess and interpret all of the information that he or she collects and determine the best way to treat a problem. If it is local this can often mean that the simple reinstatement of flow can achieve considerable change, although the note of caution is that if a local problem has already caused a structural change, like the growth of more bone or the hardening of tendons, there may be limits to what treatment may achieve.
 
It is always sensible to draw a sharp line in the sand after a number of treatments to assess progress and evaluate whether treatment in having the desired effect. It is all too easy to rack up ten or fifteen sessions without discernible change, and we always recommend that after four or five sessions there should be small signs of change at very least to encourage further work. If the practitioner can tell from diagnostic signs that change is imminent that may be reason to carry on, but the patient's experience is the most important.
 
The best advice we can give is to consult a BAcC member local to you and seek a brief face to face assessment of whether acupuncture may be of benefit, or if not, what other options they might recommend. Nothing beats seeing a problem directly to give an honest and accurate assessment of possible success.
 

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