Acupuncture for the treatment of trigger finger in adults: a prospective case series

Acupunct Med. 2016 Oct;34(5):392-397. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2016-011068. Epub 2016 Jul 11.


Objective: To determine the effect of acupuncture performed at the synovial and ligamentous tendon sheath (A1 pulley site) on pain during snapping and the severity of the snapping phenomenon in patients with trigger finger.

Methods: In this observational study, changes in the patients' condition were compared before and after acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture was performed on 19 fingers of 15 patients. Acupuncture needles were inserted into the radial and ulnar sides of the flexor tendon at the A1 pulley of the affected finger. Treatment was performed daily up to a maximum of five times. Before and after each treatment, pain during snapping and the severity of snapping were evaluated using a visual analogue scale (VAS).

Results: VAS scores for pain and snapping severity were significantly improved immediately after the first treatment (p<0.001). Pain during snapping, assessed before each treatment, improved over time, reaching statistical significance from the second treatment onwards (p<0.001); similarly, a significant improvement in the severity of snapping was observed, also from the second treatment (p<0.001). Patients with clinically significant improvements (≥50%) in pain and snapping severity had a significantly shorter duration of the disorder than those with <50% improvement (p<0.05).

Conclusions: Acupuncture at the impaired A1 pulley site may be an effective treatment for trigger finger. We postulate that acupuncture may reduce inflammation/swelling of the synovial membrane of the tendon sheath, which predominates when the disorder is of short duration. Further research is required to confirm the efficacy/effectiveness of acupuncture for trigger finger and its mechanisms of action.


Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / instrumentation
  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Fingers / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needles
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tendons / physiopathology
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trigger Finger Disorder / physiopathology
  • Trigger Finger Disorder / therapy*
  • Visual Analog Scale