Trigger Finger: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

4 years ago
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trigger finger

Otherwise known as stenosing tenosynovitis, trigger finger is a condition where one of the fingers gets stucked in a bent position.

The condition can be attributed to the narrowing of the space within the sheath surrounding the affected finger. In severe cases, the finger becomes locked in a bent position.

Treatment options for the condition can vary depending on the severity. It can range from conservative approaches to trigger finger surgery.

What are the likely causes for trigger finger?

Individuals whose hobbies or occupation entail repetitive gripping actions are more susceptible to developing the condition. Forceful use of the finger may also result to trigger finger. Grasping something (i.e. a power tool) for a long period may also cause trigger finger.

Other medical conditions—gout, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis—are also believed to cause trigger finger.

trigger finger

The condition is also more common among women.

What are the common symptoms of trigger finger?

In most cases, trigger finger affects the thumb and the ring and middle fingers. It is also possible for more than one finger to be affected at a time. The condition may also manifest in both hands.

Triggering is usually more noticeable in the mornings especially when straightening the finger or grasping an object firmly.

Telltale indicators of trigger finger may also include:

  • Clicking or popping sensation (especially when moving the finger)
  • A bump (nodule) in the palm situated at the affected finger’s base
  • Locking or finger catching
  • Finger stiffness (especially in the mornings)
  • Inability to straighten the affected finger

When stiffness or catching in the finger joint manifests, it is recommended that you seek medical attention so the doctor can perform physical evaluation and diagnose the condition.

Also, if the affected finger becomes hot and inflamed, a possible infection is likely so seeing a doctor is advised.

What are the treatment options for trigger finger?

Treatment approach for trigger finger will depend on the condition’s severity and duration.

Trigger finger treatment options include:

Medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil) may be prescribed to relieve the pain. However, the aforementioned medications will not be able to reduce the swelling that constricts the tendon sheath.

Therapy

Noninvasive treatment for the condition includes:

  • Stretching exercises – gentle exercises may be recommended to help ensure mobility of the finger is maintained.
  • Ice or heat – some individuals notice improvement when icing the palm numerous times daily. Others on the other hand, experience more relief when doing warm-water soaks, especially when done first thing in the morning.
  • Rest – resting the fingers (for at least for 3 to 4 weeks) by avoiding activities that require repeated grasping, repetitive gripping, and prolonged utilization of vibrating machinery may also provide relief.
  • Splint – wearing a splint at night might be recommended (for up to 6 weeks) to ensure the affected area is kept in an extended position.

Trigger finger surgery and other procedures

Percutaneous release – after the palm is numbed, the doctor inserts a sturdy needle into the tissue around the tendon affected. Moving the finger and the needle helps break the constriction apart.

Steroid injection – injecting a steroid medication into or near the tendon sheath may minimize the inflammation and will make it possible for the tendon to glide freely again. This treatment approach is considered one of the most common because it has been proven effective in at least 90 percent of trigger finger patients.

Trigger finger surgery – cutting open the constricted section of the tendon sheath is done through a small incision made in the affected finger’s base. This procedure is typically done in an operating room.

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