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Ask the health expert

Created date

February 25th, 2015

Q. I am 84 years old and have a trigger finger. I have tried exercise, acupuncture, and cortisone shots, none of which have been very effective. I have heard of companies offering stem cell procedures for trigger finger. Is this a valid option?

A. Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, occurs when the finger’s tendons thicken and develop nodules, and the sheath encasing the tendon becomes inflamed. Hence, the tendons cannot slide through the sheath and the finger gets stuck in a bent position. Treatment depends on the severity and may include anti-inflammatory medicines, ice or heat, splinting, stretching exercises, and procedures such as steroid injections or surgery. There are currently no reliable research studies showing that stem cell treatments are a safe and effective option for trigger finger. Despite a lack of scientific evidence, some companies offer alternative treatments that are legal but not FDA-regulated or endorsed by the medical community. To protect your health and safety, talk to your doctor or seek a second opinion from an orthopedic specialist before proceeding with any unproven treatments.

Q. My mother, who is 78, has a runny nose that seems to get worse every year. What is causing this problem and what can she do about it?

A. A runny nose (rhinitis) is typically caused by inflammation of the nasal lining, which can result from colds or flu, allergies, or medications. The nasal lining might also be irritated by a dry environment, air pollutants, spicy foods, alcohol, or even strong emotions. For some people, the exact cause is unknown—it may simply be due to aging changes in the nasal passages. Treatment is typically centered on treating the cause, such as avoiding irritants or adjusting a medication. Using a humidifier can also be helpful. People should not use over-the-counter medicines without their doctor’s consent. Antihistamines in particular have been shown to cause serious adverse effects for people over age 65. Your mother’s doctor is the best resource for determining the cause and helping her safely and effectively treat her runny nose.

Betsy Moody, M.D.

Medical Director,

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