Have you ever experienced having one or more fingers or thumbs get stuck in a curled position? Simple tasks like eating, holding a cup of coffee, or typing on a mobile phone or computer might become more challenging than they need to be when one of your fingers is locked in a bent position. If it ever happened to you, this condition is known as trigger finger, sometimes referred to as stenosing tenosynovitis, which causes the finger to become trapped in the bent position.
The tendons are held in place by tendon sheaths also called pulleys. The sheath or pulleys act as a tunnel that the tendons live inside. When the finger gets locked due to a trigger finger, it prevents the finger from going straight. Whenever the finger is bent and tries to be straightened, it gets stuck inside the sheath. The tendons can be irritated and may get inflamed, causing pain to the affected finger. That is why trigger finger can be a painful condition. This article will let you know all you need to know about trigger finger, including its causes and treatments, to help you better understand what a trigger finger is and have a clearer picture.
What is Trigger Finger?
Trigger finger is when a finger or thumb becomes suddenly caught and stuck in a bent posture. It can be snapped abruptly into place; however, it may be painful if not done correctly. Any finger may be affected by this condition. However, the long, ring finger and thumb are most frequently impacted. When the trigger finger affects the thumb, it is called trigger thumb. Trigger fingers can happen if a portion of the tendon sheath swells or if a little lump develops on the tendon.
Symptoms of Trigger Finger
- Moving the fingers or thumb causes a snapping or popping feeling.
- There is a pain in the palm, especially while gripping or clutching.
- There is pain and stiffness when bending the thumb or a finger.
- The palm of the hand has a lump that is painful or swollen.
- The thumb or fingers are locked in a bent posture that needs assistance from the opposite hand to be gently straightened.
- The finger is not able to flex completely.
- The finger or thumb stiffness and bent posture are worse in the morning. As you use your fingers and thumb, the stiffness decreases.
Trigger finger symptoms might develop worse if you don’t undergo treatment. For example, if you have a developing trigger finger, you might be unable to uncurl it without utilizing the other hand.
How Does Trigger Finger Occur?
Learning a little about hand anatomy is essential to understanding how the trigger finger occurs. To enable bending and straightening, your finger’s muscles and tendons cooperate. Strong bands of tissue known as pulleys, which are formed like arches over the tendon, keep the flexor tendons on the palm side of the hand in place. Your finger curls as you bend it because the fingers’ muscles tighten and pull on the tendons. The pulleys keep the tendons in place while the finger is curled to prevent the finger from snapping straight. However, when the tendon controlling the affected finger cannot move freely inside the tendon sheath surrounding it, a trigger finger occurs.
Typically, tendons move smoothly through a sheath, or tunnel, of connective tissue. The sheath holds the tendons in position near the finger or thumb bones. Trigger fingers and trigger thumb cause the tendons to become inflamed and irritated, making it difficult for them to slip through their sheaths. In addition, the affected tendon may develop a lump (nodule), which makes it much harder for the tendon to slide through its sheath readily. In other words, trigger finger leads to the thickening of the flexor tendon sheath, which restricts the standard gliding mechanism and finger motion.
How to Prevent Trigger Finger
In general, trigger finger cannot be entirely prevented. However, taking care of your hands and wrists can reduce your risk of getting the condition. As with other parts of our bodies, taking breaks to relax, utilizing the right equipment for the job, and adopting excellent body mechanics will help reduce the likelihood of developing trigger finger. In addition, stretching exercises for your hands and fingers are excellent in maintaining mobility in your fingers and avoiding trigger fingers. Here are some trigger finger exercises that you can try:
- Fingertip bending
- Tip and middle joint bend
- Passive wrist stretching
- Clenched wrist bending
- Side-to-side wrist bending
- Hand turning
- Hand clenching
- Finger curling
- Ball squeeze exercises
- Resistance exercises
- Extensor exercises
What to do if You’re Suffering From Trigger Finger
The best action for treating trigger finger is to visit a trustworthy doctor. The field of orthopedics is well-versed in treating trigger fingers and has all the equipment to treat a trigger finger effectively. They can physically examine your hand and fingers, understand your symptoms, and offer the best treatment to meet your needs. The intensity and duration of your trigger finger symptoms will determine how you should be treated. Here are the standard treatments for trigger finger.
In minor situations, immobilizing the afflicted finger or thumb with a plastic splint may help relieve the discomfort by preventing movement. For example, you can use a splint overnight if your finger is stiff in the morning. It is important not to wear a splint very much as this can lead to increased stiffness in the finger and make the issue worse. You can get advice from your doctor on how long you should wear the splint. Splinting can benefit some patients, but it is often less successful than other treatments, such as steroid therapy, especially over the long haul.
Steroid Injections Treatment
Corticosteroid injections, also known as steroid injections, can help reduce swelling and inflammation caused by trigger finger. Liquid corticosteroids are injected into the base of the afflicted finger or thumb in trigger finger patients. Corticosteroids are designed to reduce swelling, restoring the tendon’s ability to move freely. The effects occasionally occur shortly after receiving the injection; however, some cases can take a few weeks to notice a difference. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, trigger finger can be permanently improved with a corticosteroid injection. However, there is still a possibility that the condition sometimes returns after the injection. If the effect of the steroid injection treatment wears off, you can have another injection, although it usually works less well than the first one did.
If the trigger finger symptoms are severe and other conservative treatments are ineffective or inappropriate, a surgical procedure can be performed to treat the condition effectively. The surgery is called trigger finger release surgery. Your medical team will provide instructions on how to be ready for trigger finger surgery. During surgery, the surgeon will release the tendon sheath and make more room for the tendon to glide so it doesn’t get stuck. This allows us to restore your tendon’s mobility and motion.
Surgery on the trigger finger is considered minor surgery and is frequently performed as an outpatient operation with local anesthesia (WALANT). In this situation patients can remain awake and not suffer the side effects and cost of general anesthesia. Commonly, trigger finger surgery lasts about 20 minutes. After the surgery, you should anticipate some discomfort. A gentle dressing will be placed on your hand and you’ll be able to go home right away.
Contact Academy Orthopedics
Trigger finger may hurt and be a problem; therefore, it has to be adequately treated with the appropriate care. Given how crucial it is to receive the proper care, it is best to evaluate your condition with a reputable orthopedic practice, which can advise the best treatment option.
Academy Orthopedics is a top-ranked orthopedic practice that has provided over 25 years of service to the people of Northeast Georgia. We are home to highly regarded medical professionals providing expertise in non-surgical and orthopedic surgery including a board certified Hand Surgeon Specialist. With the top physicians in the area, Academy Orthopedics is specialized in the following:
- General Orthopedics
- Hand & Wrist Surgery
- Sports Medicine
- Joint Replacement Surgery
- Arthroscopic Surgery
- Non-operative Orthopedic Care
- Workers’ Compensation
- Amniotic Tissue Injections
- Degenerative Diseases
Academy Orthopedics is a three-location, physician-owned orthopedic clinic specializing in sports medicine, hand and upper extremity surgery, and general orthopedic surgery. So if you have a trigger finger, you don’t have to fight the battle alone. Make an appointment at one of our offices and let our medical staff assist you in choosing the best course of action.
Cumming Office & Surgery Center
318 Tribble Gap Road, Cumming, GA 30040
Tel: (770) 889-0891
Fax: (770) 889-0354
Buford / South Hall Office
3929 Carter Road
, Building C, Buford, GA 30518
Tel: (770) 271-9857
Fax: (770) 271-1118
3540 Duluth Park Lane, Suite 220, Duluth, GA 30096
Tel: (770) 476-1900
Fax: (770) 476-1753