The Piano Players Finger - Acupuncture for Arthritis

An anecdotal recount of treating an arthritic finger.

When I was studying in my fourth year at acupuncture school, my best friend Lisette booked her mum in for acupuncture with me.

Lisette's mum Kath is an amazing piano player, and she has students throughout the Hutt Valley that she teaches to play. (She is also a very fun lady who once joined Lisette and I at a Wellington bar to play bingo...dressed as a pirate. But that's another story.)

Kath was starting to get arthritis in her right index finger that was hindering her ability to tinkle the ivories. She also had a lot of pain when going outside in the windy, wet, Wellington weather.

Her pain would at times get up to a 7/10, and she could really only play the piano for 15 minutes and would change her fingering so as to use the index finger minimally. The last knuckle on Kath's finger was visibly swollen and was turning inwards.

The Diagnosis

From the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, the diagnosis for this piano playing pointer was, "damp cold bony bi syndrome". In TCM, climatic factors such as wind, dampness and cold can get into the body, obstructing the correct movement of blood and Qi.

Kath's finger was worse for cold damp whether, looked white and swollen (a form of dampness) and felt cold. "Bony Bi Syndrome" simply means obstruction of the channels causing pain at the bone level.


After the first treatment, the pain went down to a maximum of 4/10. I didn't really believe her, being my friends mum I thought she was just saying it felt better to be nice.

After the third and final treatment, the pain was an occasional 2/10, she could play the piano for her usual half an hour or more, and she was able demonstrate playing to her students again.

All this from a few acupuncture needles in her hand and finger, opposite 2nd toe, warming moxibustion therapy and a little bit of massage! And now I do believe her that it helped, because years later she still tells me her finger feels good when I see her.

Have you got arthritis pain?

Although Kath's quick results with acupuncture aren't exactly typical (I'd usually expect a patient to need up to 8 treatments), acupuncture can be a great option for arthritis sufferers. As I tell people, we can't reverse the joint damage, but we can help manage the pain, improve mobility and decrease inflammation.

Book online now to try acupuncture for your arthritis!

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