Do You Ever Experience Pain in Your Hands?

In one of our live Origamigos meetings, the issue of hand pain and trigger finger was brought up: Is there an exercise that can help us heal trigger finger? Here I will expand on my remarks on that meeting and how I personally addressed those issues.

Over the years I have occasionally suffered from pain in my shoulders or hands, including a “trigger finger”.

Without being able to use my hands in full, I was seriously concerned about how my work and financial prospects would be affected, including my origami practice.

Over the years, I have learned to pay attention to and decipher the painful messages my hands send me. Here are some non-pharmaceutical approaches that have helped me heal.

When I developed a pain in my wrist that kept me from work for several weeks, I found the book The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain* by the late Dr. John Sarno. Dr. Sarno practiced medicine at the New York University Medical Center in New York City with a specialty in back issues. (En español: Curar el cuerpo, eliminar el dolor)

One of the conditions he describes in this book is Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS). The concept is based on the idea that your mind creates pain symptoms to aid in the repression and avoidance of subconscious thoughts and feelings.

Dr. Sarno’s theory is that your subconscious mind has determined that repressed feelings or emotions would be harmful to you if you were to become consciously aware of them. So your mind creates pain syndromes in order to distract and prevent the repressed thoughts from reaching conscious awareness.

Following his recommendations, my wrist pain disappeared, allowing me to resume work. Thanks to his ideas, many have been healed from muscular pains in the back, arms, and legs. In my opinion, he’s worth listening to.

Another condition I’ve experienced is one called Stenosing Tenosynovitis, commonly known as “trigger finger.”

At times my thumb can be very painful. It gets very still and snaps when flexed, and extended. Twice I went to a hand doctor about this condition and was prescribed first a custom splint to be worn at night, and then a cortisone shot. The final option suggested was surgery if the pain returned.

After a few months, the pain returned. The prospect of surgery –with an uncertain outcome– was not a route I was willing to risk. Once again, Dr. Sarno’s approach led to a full recovery along with daily journaling, a key practice that was immensely helpful.

I also found another book that resonated with me and helped address the trigger-finger issue: The Presence Process*, by Michael Brown. Website HERE. (Libro en español: El proceso de la presencia)

One of the premises of the Presence Process is that from everyday experiences we receive messages, including painful ones, and we must pay attention to them. Our tendency is to avoid such messages but we “should not kill the messenger.” Instead, we should “be willing to receive the message”.

One of the key ideas shared in The Presence Process is that “If it happens, it’s required”.

Michael Brown’s book is an invitation to explore our ‘conscious emotional response’ as a better way of living our life. He describes a ten-week process to recognize our shadows and give ourselves the attention and support we need to heal our emotional wounds.

I have followed Michel Brown’s ten-week program a couple of times to address my hand issues, and experienced success.

Mindfulness as a personal practice in daily life has been most beneficial. My trigger finger issues have been best addressed by resting adequately, and by taking my time whenever I work with my hands. When I fold paper, I work calmly and with gratitude for having pain-free hands.

* Links to Amazon are affiliates.

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