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What is Trigger Finger? Cause, Symptoms & Treatment Options

The Complete Guide to Trigger Finger

Is your finger stiff when you wake up? Do you hear popping or clicking when you move your finger? Is your finger stuck in a bent position and you are unable to straighten it? If so, trigger finger could be to blame.
 

What Is Trigger Finger?

 
Trigger finger is also known as tenosynovitis and is a condition in which one of your fingers gets stuck in a bent position. You may straighten with a snap — very similar to a trigger being pulled and released. If your trigger finger is severe, your finger may become locked in a bent position for quite some time.

A locked finger is a sign of trigger finger

Trigger finger occurs when the flexor tendon becomes irritated as it slides through the tendon sheath tunnel, narrowing the space around the tendon in the finger. Thickened tendon sheath can also cause the tunnel to become smaller, closing the passage through which the tendon slides. When you try to straighten the finger, the tendon momentarily sticks at the tendon sheath mouth. A “pop” sound is usually heard as the tendon slides through the tunnel and your finger straightens.

We have often seen finger tendons breaking free from the sheath, and feel as though the finger is dislocated. Severe cases of trigger finger can occur when the finger will not straighten even with help or when more than one finger is affected at a time. Contact Alexander Orthopaedics immediately if this is your case.
 

Trigger Finger Symptoms

 
The following signs or symptoms of a trigger finger may range from mild to severe and can include:

  • Finger stiffness, especially in the morning
  • A popping or clicking sensation when you move your finger
  • Tenderness or a bump in your palm at the base of your affected finger
  • Your finger is locked in a bent position and you are unable to straighten it

Thumbs, middle or ring fingers are most commonly affected by trigger finger. More than one finger may be affected at a time and both hands can even have trigger fingers on them.
 

What Causes Trigger Finger?

 

Trigger Finger description
The thickened nodule on the flexor tendon strikes the sheath tunnel, making it difficult to straighten the finger. Reproduced and adapted from Griffin LY (ed): Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care. 3rd Ed. Rosemont, IL. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2005

The cause of trigger finger is scientifically unknown. Some factors are seen to put people at greater risk. If you work or have a hobby dealing with repetitive gripping actions, you may be at a higher risk for developing a trigger finger. This condition is also very common in women and anyone who also suffers from diabetes. Generally,

  • Trigger fingers are more common in women than men.
  • Trigger fingers may occur most frequently in people between ages 40 and 60 years old.
  • Trigger fingers are common in people with certain medical conditions, like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Trigger fingers may occur after repeated activities that strain the hand or fingers.

 

Trigger Finger Treatment (Nonsurgical)

 
There is a range of treatment options for trigger finger based on the severity.

Rest: If your symptoms are mild then resting your finger may be enough to resolve the pain. Check with your doctor about a split or a neutral resting position.

Medications: Over-the-counter medications, such as anti-inflammatory medicines may be able to relieve pain. Please consult your doctor before taking any medications.

Steroid Injections: Your doctor may choose to inject a corticosteroid — a more powerful anti-inflammatory medication– into your tendon sheath. Sometimes this only temporarily improves the problem. If two injections don’t provide any relief or resolve your problem then talk to your doctor about surgery.
 

Trigger Finger Surgery

 

trigger finger surgery

Reproduced and adapted from Griffin LY (ed): Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care. 3rd Ed. Rosemont, IL. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2005

Trigger finger is usually not a dangerous condition. However, if your trigger finger causes constant discomfort and nonsurgical options fail to provide solutions, surgery may be needed. The goal of having surgery on your trigger finger is to widen the opening of the tunnel so that the tendon can easily slide through it. There are two surgery options commonly used to treat trigger finger:

Open Surgery — During open surgery, your doctor will use a local or regional anesthetic to numb the hand or arm. Then, he or she will make a small incision to open the hand so they can widen the tendon sheath. The surgeon will close the wound with stitches and cover the area with a bandage.

Percutaneous Surgery — The surgery is less invasive than open surgery but yields a great success rate. During percutaneous surgery, your doctor will use a needle to break apart the blockage in the tendon sheath. A local anesthetic is only needed and, in some cases, this procedure can be done in the doctor’s office, avoiding the extra trigger finger surgery cost of a hospital visit and surgery room.

Recovery from trigger finger surgery varies. Typically, your doctor will remove your stitches within one to two weeks, but it can take up to six weeks to recover completely.
 

Call Alexander Orthopaedic Associates Today for More Information on Trigger Finger

 
If you or someone you know has a trigger finger, please call us today. Our orthopaedic and physical therapy experts are ready to provide you solutions to your discomfort and pain.

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