Trigger Finger: Management and Treatment

Also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, trigger finger occurs when one of the fingers remains stuck in a bent position.

Depending on the condition’s severity, injections, noninvasive treatments, medications, and trigger finger surgery might be recommended.

What are the common causes of trigger finger?

Trigger finger can be attributed to repetitive or forceful use of the finger or thumb.

Other medical conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout can also cause the condition to develop.

Grasping something firmly (a power tool, for instance) for long periods might also lead to trigger finger.

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Who are at risk?

Industrial workers, farmers, musicians and those whose job or hobbies will entail repeated finger and thumb movements are considered highly susceptible.

Smokers are also at risk of developing the condition because of their repeated lighter use.

Trigger finger is also common in individuals aged 40 to 60.

What are the common symptoms of trigger finger?

Typical symptoms of trigger finger include the following:

  • Stiffness of the affected finger (especially in the mornings)
  • Soreness (at the thumb’s or finger’s base)
  • Painful clicking or snapping when the finger is straightened or bent
  • Finger or thumb locks in a bent or straight position

How is trigger finger diagnosed?

In order to diagnose the condition, physical examination of the hands and the fingers is done.

In some cases, swelling will manifest in the affected finger and a noticeable bump over the joint of the palm will appear.

The affected finger can also stay locked in a bent position and may become stiff and very painful.

X-rays and lab tests are not required in order to diagnose the condition.

What are the common risk factors?

Repeated Gripping

Individuals whose occupations and hobbies entail repetitive or prolonged gripping are more likely to develop the condition.

Sex

The condition is more common in women.

Other medical conditions

People suffering from diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis are at a higher risk.

What are the possible treatment options?

Noninvasive treatment alternatives

  • Heat or Ice

Some patients notice significant improvement when icing their palms numerous times daily.

Others on the other hand find warm water soaks first thing in the morning more helpful.

  • Splint

Wearing splints at night are sometime recommended to ensure the affected finger stays in the extended position.

Aside from helping guarantee the finger does not curl when sleeping, splints can also help the tendon rest.

  • Stretching Exercises

To ensure finger mobility is maintained, gentle exercises might be recommended.

Surgical procedure and other treatment alternatives

If the symptoms are severe and the condition does not respond to noninvasive treatments, the following treatment options will be likely recommended:

  • Steroid Injection

To reduce inflammation and allow the tendon to freely move, a steroid medication is injected into the tendon sheath.

Steroid injection is a very common and popular treatment alternative because it has a 90 percent effectivity rate.

This option however is not recommended for patients with diabetes.

  • Percutaneous Release

This procedure will entail that the patient’s palm is numbed before a sturdy needle is inserted.

The needle is inserted into the tissue around the tissue that is affected.

When the finger and the tendon are moved, the constriction blocking the smooth motion and movement of the tendon will be resolved.

Surgery

Trigger finger surgery is often carried out in the operating room.

A small incision is made near the base of the affected finger.

From there, the surgeon can easily cut open the portion of the tendon sheath that is constricted.

How long is the likely recovery period after the surgery?

Recovery time will depend on the condition’s severity.

In some cases, the treatment of choice can also affect the length of the recovery period.

For instance, splinting may require at least 6 weeks.

In most cases however, patients will recover within a few weeks with anti-inflammatory medications and rest.

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