Trigger Finger Causes and Treatment | PreferredMD
Orthopedic Surgery

Trigger Finger Causes and Treatment

Condition • By Biraj Patel

If you've ever found yourself struggling with a frustrating hitch in your finger, you might be experiencing what's commonly known as “trigger finger.” In this article, we'll delve into the intricacies of this condition, exploring its causes, symptoms, and various treatment options.

What is a trigger finger?

A trigger finger, or stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that affects the tendons in your fingers, making it difficult to bend or straighten them. It's a bit like trying to pull the trigger of a gun that's stuck, hence the name. It's more common in the ring finger and thumb, though it can happen in any digit.

What causes trigger finger?

The main cause of trigger finger lies in the tendons and their sheaths in your fingers. When these tendons become inflamed, they can no longer glide smoothly through their sheaths, resulting in the finger getting stuck in a bent position. The inflammation can be attributed to various factors, such as:

  • Repetitive hand and finger movements, often found in certain professions.
  • Conditions like diabetes, which can cause connective tissue disorders.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, where inflammation is the main culprit.
  • Infections or injuries to the hand.

Symptoms of trigger finger

Identifying trigger finger isn't rocket science, but it does require paying attention to your body. Common symptoms include:

  • Finger stiffness: You'll notice your finger getting stuck in a bent or straight position, especially in the morning.
  • Popping sensation: A clicking or popping sound when moving the affected finger.
  • Pain at the base of the finger: Discomfort or tenderness at the base of the affected finger.
  • Nodule formation: A bump or nodule may develop in the palm near the affected finger.

Preventing trigger finger

While some factors, like age and genetics, are beyond our control, you can lower your risk of developing trigger finger.

  • Ergonomic work environment: If your job involves repetitive hand movements, make sure your workspace is ergonomically designed.
  • Hand exercises: Regularly perform hand and finger exercises to maintain flexibility and strength.
  • Lifestyle changes: If you have underlying health conditions, like diabetes, managing them effectively can lower your risk.

Trigger finger treatment

Now, let's talk treatment. Depending on the severity of your condition, several options are available, and the best one for you will depend on your symptoms. 

Non-surgical trigger finger treatments

  • Splinting: Wearing a splint to keep the finger straight and promote healing.
  • Medication: Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help alleviate the pain.
  • Physical therapy: Exercises for trigger finger to improve finger mobility.
  • Steroid injections: Injecting corticosteroids into the tendon sheath to reduce inflammation.

Trigger finger surgery

During trigger finger surgery, technically known as trigger finger release surgery, the orthopedic surgeon makes a small incision at the base of the affected finger or palm. This incision provides access to the tendon sheath where the problem lies. The surgeon carefully opens the constricted sheath, allowing the affected tendon to glide freely once again. This release of tension in the tendon sheath is akin to “unlocking” the finger, hence the term “release surgery.”

The procedure is typically done on an outpatient basis, which means you can go home the same day. Local anesthesia is commonly used to numb the hand, making the procedure less uncomfortable.

How to unlock a trigger finger?

Unlocking a trigger finger can be achieved through various means:

  • For mild cases, resting the finger and using a splint often works.
  • Physical therapy can help gently ease the finger's mobility.
  • For more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to release the affected tendon's sheath.

Can trigger finger go away on its own?

In some instances, milder cases of trigger finger might resolve on their own with rest and self-care. However, more severe cases often require medical intervention to regain full finger functionality.

Discuss trigger finger treatment with the best orthopedic surgeons on PreferredMD

Trigger finger can be a challenging condition, but with the right approach, you can unlock your fingers and regain your dexterity. The best course of action depends on the severity of your condition, and it's always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable treatment. 

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