Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thumbs Up

I thought I knew my anatomy. It took a vineyard to teach me I don't have a single muscle in my fingers. That's right. Fingers are all bone and cartilage and sinew. A puppet master system of tendons sliding through sheaths of fixed tissue, so called "cables and pulleys," makes our hands work. Only when tugged by muscles in the palm and forearm do the strings that run to the tips of our fingers give us grip.

Most people know about a grip related repetitive stress problem called carpal tunnel syndrome. This involves pinching a nerve in the wrist. And of course there's arthritis of the joints. But there's another problem that arises when the connective tubes or tendons at the base of the fingers gets inflamed. It sounds like something cold war spies used to get. I got my "trigger finger" (of the thumb) from the mundane, repetitive, meditative activity of pruning thousands of grapevine stems.

Let's hope the shot of cortisone and the splint and some time off for winter do the trick. I have to get back and get the fruit trees pruned before bud break.