Trigger thumb, medically known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition in which your thumb catches in a bent position, then straightens abruptly, sometimes with a snap. This often-painful condition results from constriction of the sheath around the tendon in your thumb, and tends to strike people whose job calls for repetitive grabbing motions. Mayo Clinic.com advises seeing your doctor for trigger thumb; if the joint is hot and inflamed, seek medical care immediately. Many people turn to alternative treatments for relief from trigger thumb. Before starting any alternative therapy, consult your doctor.
Acupuncture, the application of needles, heat or pressure to the skin, is a common alternative treatment for trigger finger. Acupuncture is based on the belief that qi, or vital energy, flows through the body on a network of paths, and that problems result when qi is blocked. Acupuncturists say they believe they can unblock qi by using acupuncture on specific places on the skin, or acupoints. According to www.nutriacure.com, acupuncture can help improve blood flow to the area, decrease inflammation, and trigger the body to produce pain-killing endorphins. The Blue Shield Complementary and Alternative Health website warns that you should only seek treatment from qualified acupuncture practitioners, and make sure they use sterile needles.
Evening Primrose Oil
An herbalist may recommend that you take evening primrose oil to help alleviate trigger finger. Www.tandarust.com suggests treating trigger finger by taking 2 tsp. of the oil a day for several months. The National Institutes of Health says primrose oil may be useful for joint pain and rheumatism, but notes that most studies on the subject have been small and not well designed.
Some naturopaths use vitamin B-6, or pyridoxine, to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, and recommend it for patients with trigger thumb as well. According to Jeffrey Dach, M.D., founder and medical director of TrueMedMD clinic in Hollywood, Florida, you should take 20 mgs. of the activated P-5-P form of Vitamin B-6 three times a day. There is some scientific research supporting the use of vitamin B-6 for repetitive motion injuries. In a clinical study conducted at the University of Texas and published in the December 1982 issue of "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," physicians were able to identify carpal tunnel syndrome patients who had received vitamin B-6--as opposed to those who received a placebo--solely by the clinical improvement in their condition. Before embarking on a supplementary vitamin regimen, consult your physician.
Arnica montana, made from a daisy-like Alpine plant, is a popular homeopathic remedy for broken bones and joint problems, including trigger thumb. Originally chewed by mountaineers to treat injuries and muscle strain, this toxic herb led to many accidental poisonings; however, the amount used in a homeopathic remedy is infinitesimal and highly diluted. Homeopaths take personality traits into account before prescribing a remedy. According to Beneforce.com, personality types that could benefit from arnica tend to deny their illnesses, and are absent-minded. If your trigger thumb worsens with movement, touch, cold and damp but improved by lying down, it's even more likely that a homeopath will prescribe arnica. Before using an arnica remedy, ask your doctor.
- Mayo Clinic: Trigger Finger
- Jeffrey Dach, M.D.: Vitamin B-6 for Trigger Finger and Carpal Tunnel
- National Center for Biotechnological Information: Response of Vitamin B-6 Deficiency and The Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to Pyridoxine
- Beneforce: Arnica Homeopathic Remedy Information
- Tandarust: Trigger Finger Natural Remedies
Carol Sarao is an entertainment and lifestyle writer whose articles have appeared in Atlantic City Weekly, The Women's Newspaper of Princeton, and New Millennium Writings. She has interviewed and reviewed many national recording acts, among them Everclear, Live, and Alice Cooper, and received her Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Warren Wilson College.