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How Massage for Trigger Finger Can Help

by Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT March 27, 2020 0 Comments

Trigger Finger Massage

Trigger finger massage is a great tool for addressing this condition, whether you choose to self-administer or go to a professional. There are many techniques that you can try on your own or discuss first with a physical therapist or massage therapist. Keep reading to learn more about specific techniques for trigger finger massage.

Benefits of Massage

There are many benefits to massaging the affected hand and finger. These include:

  • Improved blood flow for healing
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Pain relief
  • Improved tissue mobility and finger range of motion to prevent contracture, especially when using a splint
  • Overall relaxation of the finger, hand, and forearm
  • Help to restore hand and finger function
  • Decreased dependence on anti-inflammatory medication
  • Reduced risk of the need for trigger finger surgery, corticosteroid injections, and other invasive treatment options

For other  treatment options for trigger finger  look at our full guide.

Professional Massage Techniques

The following techniques are specific ways to address areas of pain, inflammation, and stiffness. While these techniques may elicit some pain while they’re being done, you should be able to relax during the entire massage session. Otherwise, ask your therapist to decrease their pressure or have them give you tips for staying more relaxed.

  • Cross-Fiber Friction

    Cross friction massage is a great way to address tendons and myofascial tissues that have adhesions. These adhesions typically feel like lumpy areas that limit overall mobility in the affected area. For trigger finger, the area of focus is the entire flexor tendon of the finger and along the tendon sheath, particularly at the base of the palm.

    This massage can be particularly sensitive because deep rhythmic pressure is placed against the grain of the fibers, but if you can manage to stay relaxed you can reap great benefits.

  • Tendon Stripping

    Another option for addressing adhesions specific to the flexor tendons is tendon stripping. This time, instead of going against the grain like cross-friction, slow, deep, pressure will be placed against the entire tendon parallel to the affected finger itself.

  • Deep Tissue Massage

    Deep tissue massage is a great technique for addressing deep layers of connective tissue and muscle. Areas of focus may include the muscle belly of the thumb and more generalized areas in the forearm that are tense from impaired hand mechanics and muscle guarding. The goal of deep tissue massage is to decrease stiffness and allow better movement between the layers of tissue for optimized function.

  • Trigger Point Massage

    Trigger point massage is a very effective way to address muscle knots. Applying direct sustained pressure to a muscle knot can help realign muscle fibers and restore blood flow. The fingers themselves are not an ideal area for this but a focus on the forearm and thumb muscle bellies can provide relief.

Self-Massage

Self-massage is a great warm-up tool before completing trigger finger exercises or to bring quick pain and stiffness relief for trigger finger or trigger thumb. Try these massages that target the forearm, wrist, hand & fingers:

  • Small Circular Motions Along the Tendon

    Simple touch and pressure to affected and sore areas in the hand, wrist, and forearm can make a significant difference in pain and stiffness. Simply start at the tip of the affected finger with your opposite hand’s thumb and pointer finger, gently pinch them together as you rotate in a circular motion. Slowly move down the finger and any other sore areas in the hands, wrist, and forearm.

  • Milking Massage

    This is similar to the technique above, but you will now be using your entire hand to apply pressure to the entire hand and forearm. Start at the tips of the fingers and move all the way up the hand and forearm until you reach the elbow. You can repeat 2-3 times back and forth for maximal relief.

  • Cross Friction and Tendon Stripping

    Deep tissue massage will be hardest to do independently because of the pressure you need to sustain using just one hand. However, cross friction, tendon stripping, and even trigger point massage can be tried. If you’re not sure how to start, talk to your physical therapist or hand massage specialist for instruction and recommendations.

When and How Often Should I Massage?

Experts recommend at least a couple of minutes of hand massage every day paired with exercise. This is why a combination of professional massage and self-massage works best. If you are getting too sore, you may need to decrease frequency. If you’re making progress you may want to increase the time or frequency to two times a day if tolerated.

If you think massage would be helpful but you’re having trouble tolerating the pressure. You may consider using pain medications such as ibuprofen, ice, heat, or check out other options at the link below.

Home Remedies for Trigger Finger

Precautions for Trigger Finger Massage

The old belief that “no pain no gain” is required for getting exercise benefits is just not true anymore. While some pain or discomfort is okay, being too rough can actually cause increased inflammation and exacerbation of symptoms. This is especially true if trigger finger is secondary to a medical condition like rheumatoid arthritis since it compromises overall tissue quality.

If you’re not sure about where to start or your symptoms of trigger finger worsen, always consult with your physical therapist, physician or hand therapist for further guidance and treatment options.

SHOP TRIGGER FINGER PRODUCTS

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Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT
Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT

JayDee Vykoukal is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, owner of the healthy habit platform Health Means Wealth, and freelance medical writer. She loves traveling and spending time with her family in nature. Her passion is helping others continue to participate in the activities they love through education and proper exercise.



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