What Is a Trigger Finger?
Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, occurs when the tendons in the fingers or thumb become inflamed and cause difficulty in finger movement. While the trigger finger can affect both men and women, it is generally more common in women.
Trigger finger is a treatable problem that many people face. It can happen to any finger or thumb as the problem occurs in the tendons that help the finger to bend. This is a painful condition where a finger or thumb gets locked when you bend it. You can experience this issue with just one finger or more than one at a time. Some people have experienced this problem in the fingers of both hands at a time as well. Trigger Finger Symptoms
Here are a few symptoms of a trigger finger you will notice:
- Every time you bend or straighten your finger, you will experience a painful clicking. If you keep your finger in one position for too long, this symptom will get worse. However, it gets better when you move your finger.
- Every morning after waking up, you will feel that your affected finger is stiff.
- You will feel swelling or a lump at the base of the affected finger. This lump is called a nodule.
- You will hear a popping or clicking sound when you move your finger.
- You will not be able to straighten the affected finger.
Although these symptoms will be very mild in the beginning, they will get worse over time. Also, you will experience more pain at certain times. Here is when the pain is worse:
- After you wake up in the morning, moving the affected finger will be more painful.
- You will experience more pain when you hold something firmly.
- The pain will feel worse every time you try to straighten your finger.
Causes of Trigger Finger
A trigger finger is caused due to two reasons, moving your finger repeatedly or using your finger forcefully. This can inflame a tendon responsible for bending your fingers and cause a trigger finger.
A tissue layer surrounds the tendons in your fingers. This tissue layer is known as the synovial sheath. It ensures that the tendons in your fingers can slide easily. However, a tendon or the surrounding synovial sheath can get inflamed and swollen at times. When this irritation is long-term, the tendon sheath layer can get thickened and impact the tendon’s smooth motion. Whenever you bend your finger or thumb, the inflamed tendon will get pulled through the thickened sheath. As a result, the finger snaps or pops.
What Can Make You More Likely To Get A Trigger Finger?
Here are a few things that make you more likely to have a trigger finger:
- Your age is a factor. People who are between 40 and 60 are likely to get a trigger finger.
- Your sex can increase your chances of getting a trigger finger. This condition is more common among women than men.
- Certain health conditions can increase the chances of a trigger finger, like diabetes, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- The nature of your job can have an impact as well. This condition is more common among people whose professions require heavy use of the fingers. Mostly farmers, industrial workers, musicians, and people who have to repeat finger and thumb movements get it.
- You may experience this condition after surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. The chances are high for the first 6 months after your surgery.
Trigger Finger Diagnosis
Doctors cannot prescribe an X-ray or lab tests to diagnose a trigger finger. A physical examination is required to diagnose it. The doctor will check your finger or thumb and ask you about the symptoms.
Trigger Finger Repair Treatment
The treatment for a trigger finger repair hugely depends on the severity of the symptoms. These are a few basic treatments the doctor will suggest in the beginning:
- Rest: You must always allow your affected finger or thumb to rest. Avoid moving it as much as possible. If any activity is causing pain, you must avoid doing it as well. However, if you cannot stop doing it, you can consider using padded gloves.
- Splints: After diagnosing your condition, the doctor can recommend splints. Splints are great to ensure that the finger stays still.
- Stretching exercises: Your doctor will suggest a few stretching exercises for your trigger finger. These exercises will help to reduce stiffness and improve the motion of your tendon.
- Over-the-counter drugs: If the pain is preventing you from leading a normal life, your doctor will prescribe a few over-the-counter drugs that will reduce the pain and inflammation.
- Steroid injections: Steroid injections can be given as well to reduce the symptoms. Its effect can stay for more than a year as well. In some cases, the patient requires two shots to get the results.
- Surgery: When all the trigger finger repair treatments fail, and you do not get any relief, your doctor will recommend surgery.
Complications associated with surgery
There are a few risks associated with surgery. If you are opting for surgery, you should be aware of them beforehand. They are:
- The chances of developing an infection after the surgery.
- You may experience finger stiffness or pain.
- A scar can be left behind after the surgery.
- There are risks of nerve damage.
- Bowstringing is a rare complication developed after surgery due to excessive loss of the proximal pulleys.
- The hand may swell after the surgery. It usually goes away within a few months.
You can reduce the chances of these complications when you visit an experienced hand surgeon. Dr. Derek Polecritti with The Julian Institute Of Plastic Surgery completed a three-year fellowship in Plastic, Reconstructive, and Hand Surgery before joining his brother in practice and is one of the best in the Tampa Bay area. We use the most advanced technology and surgical procedures that allow us to exceed your expectations. To book an appointment, call (352) 556-5248.