Why Some Patients Develop a Trigger Finger:
- tendons in the hand connect muscles with bones;
- these tendons slide through a tunnel called a tendon sheath;
- the tendon sheath may become irritated, which narrows the tunnel;
- when the tunnel is narrowed, it may cause the tendon to jam at a certain point;
- the jammed tendon may stay in the bent position, or it may be released with a little popping sound or pain.
What Are The Triggers?
It’s not known exactly what causes trigger finger. The syndrome is more common in women between the ages of 40 and 60, and in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes.
Straining the hand— with repetitive movements, for instance— may bring on a case of trigger finger. The deformity may heal on its own given enough time, but many patients prefer to seek treatment to relieve the nuisance factor. Without treatment, there may be pain when the trigger finger is bent or straightened, or swelling in the palm or finger. The trigger finger tends to be stiff when the patient first awakes in the morning, and then it may relax over the course of the day. In the most severe cases, the finger cannot be straightened, even with physical manipulation.
You doctor can diagnose trigger finger by examining the finger. Imaging tests (such as x-rays) are not needed.
Treatment: Conservative and Surgical Options
Treatment for trigger finger usually starts with conservative methods. The finger may be fitted with a splint to keep the tendon in a neutral position while the irritation subsides. Pain may be managed with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or acetominophen.
Your doctor may recommend a cortisone injection to temporarily relieve inflammation in the tendon sheath. Usually, several injections a few weeks apart, bring relief. Patients who’ve had a trigger finger for a long time or patients with an underlying condition such as diabetes are less likely to get relief from cortisone injections.
If conservative therapies fail to correct the trigger, surgery is an option.
Surgical treatment consists of widening the tendon sheath to allow the tendon to pass easily through it. This can be done in the doctor’s office, with no need for a hospital stay. After an injection of local anesthesia, the doctor inserts a needle through the palm, or makes a small incision in the finger. Patients are usually able to move their finger immediately after surgery. It may take a few weeks or months for the swelling and stiffness to completely subside.
Why See Your Doctor About Trigger Finger
Many people don’t seek medical advice on their trigger finger until it has become a real impediment to everyday activities. This is unfortunate because treatment is most effective and healing is quicker when the condition is arrested in the early stages. While trigger finger is not dangerous, it can interfere with many routine activities— holding a hot cup of coffee, for instance, or pinning a baby’s diaper. For that reason, we encourage patients to make an appointment at our clinic while the finger is still in the ‘joke’ stage.
Common Questions about Trigger Finger Treatment
What is a trigger finger?
A trigger finger is a condition affecting the tendons that flex the fingers and thumb, which typically results in a sensation of locking or catching when you bend and straighten your digits.
The ring finger and thumb are the most commonly affected digits, but the condition can affect any digit. When the thumb is involved, it is appropriately called a trigger thumb.
What are the causes of a trigger finger?
Many factors increase your risk of developing a trigger finger, even though its causes are unknown. Here are reasons why patients develop a trigger finger:
- Tendons in the hand connect muscles with bones;
- These tendons slide through a tunnel called a tendon sheath;
- The tendon sheath may become irritated, which narrows the tunnel;
- When the tunnel is narrowed, it may cause the tendon to jam at a certain point;
- The jammed tendon may stay bent or be released with a little popping sound or pain.
Why should I get trigger finger treatment?
Trigger fingers are often left untreated until they seriously obstruct daily activities. If the condition is detected early on, it is easier to treat and heal. We offer trigger finger treatment at All-Pro Orthopedics in Florida.
While the trigger finger is not dangerous, it can interfere with many routine activities, such as typing or texting, buttoning a shirt, or inserting a key into a lock. For this reason, we encourage patients to schedule an appointment at our clinic in Florida before something more serious happens.
What is trigger finger treatment?
Our doctors in our Florida locations are trained in performing trigger finger treatment, which usually starts with conservative, nonsurgical methods.
A splint can keep the tendon neutral until the irritation subsides, or we can manage pain with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen. Avoiding activities that aggravate your hand and resting your hand may help.
A cortisone injection temporarily relieves inflammation in the tendon sheath. Usually, several injections are needed a few weeks apart. Those who have had trigger fingers for a long time or those with underlying conditions such as diabetes are less likely to benefit from cortisone injections.
Is surgery an option for trigger finger treatment?
Surgery may be an option if conservative therapies fail to correct the trigger. Effective surgical treatment involves widening the tendon sheath to make the tendon more easily pass through. The surgery is an outpatient treatment at the doctor’s office.
Local anesthesia is injected into the palm, or a small incision is made in the finger. Following surgery, patients are usually able to move their fingers immediately. The swelling and stiffness may take a few weeks or months to subside.
What to expect after trigger finger treatment?
Most patients are encouraged to move their fingers as soon as possible after surgery.
You are likely to experience some soreness in your hand after the procedure. Elevating your hand above your heart can help reduce swelling and pain. The swelling and stiffness in your hand and your fingers or thumb may take 4 to 6 months to disappear completely, even though your incision will heal within a few weeks.