Six tips to fix a finger that won’t bend
Have you ever had a finger that wouldn’t bend or grip properly? Has it gotten worse over time? Think you might have the beginning stages of arthritis? Read on!
My client Bill was ready to have surgery to fix his finger that wouldn’t grip his golf club. It was messing up his swing and he was getting frustrated. I suggested he try a hand clinic first to see if there were any non-surgical solutions. He took me up on my suggestion, and then I invited myself along on one of his appointments to see exactly what they were doing to help….because it was getting better!
Here are the main treatments they subjected his finger to:
1 – Ultrasound
to warm up the individual joints of the finger.
If you don’t have an ultrasound machine handy, that’s okay. Try some of the other techniques below.
2. – A machine called Fluido
Here he is inserting his hands into a super interesting machine called a “Fluido”.
The Fluido uses heated air circulating -believe it or not-ground corn husk. It was created by an engineer whose daughter broke her arm. He wanted a way for her to rehab her arm in a warm dry heat environment. He started with warm air blowing glass beads around, but those hurt! By process of elimination he discovered corn was the least allergic and it has the added benefit of holding heat without moisture. This creates convection heat rather than using something like paraffin or rice which create moist heat. Moist heat and inflammation are often not a good mix, according to Bill’s Occupational Therapist or OT. Therefore, if you are struggling with inflammation consider your heat source. On the other hand, try adding heat to your digits if you want to increase your range as you work on movement.
His job was to do his finger exercises in the Fluido in a ten minute timeframe.
Here is an example of the exercises he did while in the Fluido. They were posted on the wall for reference.
Very fancy and complicated? No, really just taking the fingers and hand through its full range of motion. Easily done at home!
3 – Massage Therapy
Here is his OT using massage to loosen up the forearms. Turns out hands have lots of tendons that originate from muscles in the forearm. Finger tightness? Look up the chain and dig into the forearms!
4 – Ligament massage
Here was the painful part: the small circular massage of the ligaments on the sides of each of the knuckles. She started with her fingers, but moved on to the rubber tipped dowel with lotion. I should have taken a photo of his facial expression. It was contorted most of the time.
5 – Put a brace on it
Bill wears a small handmade brace to straighten his fingers at night because the OT told him time and gentle pressure will change the collagen to straighten the finger out. This is good news….and you can fashion popsicle sticks to create your own.
6 – Pull your finger!
The final tip, which might elicit a giggle or reminds you of something your grandfather might have asked you to do:
Pull your finger!
One pop is good. If there isn’t swelling or pain, you aren’t causing tissue damage.
There are your top six tips to help your not-so-bendy or arthritic digits. Try these on fingers or toes- both could probably use some love. Let me know how you liked the strategies in the comments below, and happy gripping to you!