Do you experience stiffness or locking in one of the fingers in your hand? You may be suffering from a hand condition called trigger finger. Read on to find out about this condition, such as its symptoms, causes, and if you will need joint surgery to correct it.
What Is Trigger Finger?
Trigger finger is a type of repetitive motion injury of the hand. The most well-known symptom of this condition is a finger stuck in a bent position. It typically affects the ring finger or thumb but may occur in any finger of the hand.
This condition is also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, as it affects the covering sheaths and connective tissues of the bones called tendons. With repetitive motion, these tendons become inflamed, leading to narrowing of the spaces in the hand. The inflammation makes it difficult for the tendons to move, thus hindering seamless bending and straightening of the finger.
Symptoms of Trigger Finger
Trigger finger may occur in any one or more digits. It may also affect both hands. The following are the symptoms of trigger finger. The presentation of symptoms may range from mild to severe.
People who suffer from trigger finger may have trouble moving their affected finger, especially after long periods of rest, such as upon waking up in the morning. In severe cases, the finger can get locked and become very difficult to straighten without assistance.
Popping or Snapping
A popping or clicking sensation, similar to pulling a trigger, may occur during movement of the affected finger. While in a bent position, the finger may also catch and lock, then suddenly pop into a straight position.
Bump or Nodule at the Base of the Finger
The base of the affected finger along the palm may become sore. You might also experience swelling or develop a tender lump. With repetitive movement and prolonged irritation, a bump or nodule on the tendon may appear due to scarring and thickening of the tendon. This nodule results in more difficulty in movement.
Causes and Risk Factors of Trigger Finger
The cause of trigger finger is irritation and inflammation of the sheath surrounding the tendon. Because of the inflamed protective sheath, there is a restrain in movement.
Trigger finger can affect people of all ages, but it is most common in women in their 50s or beyond. Some people are more prone to developing trigger finger than others due to elevated risk factors. People who suffer from certain health conditions, such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, have a higher chance of developing this condition. It may also result as a complication of carpal tunnel syndrome surgery.
Those who have occupations or hobbies that involve repetitive, forceful, or prolonged gripping are at higher risk. These include people who are musicians, industrial workers, and farmers.
How Doctors Diagnose Trigger Finger
It is easy for an orthopedic doctor to diagnose trigger finger. During the appointment, the healthcare provider will instruct you to close and open your hand. They will check how well your fingers move and if you experience any pain while moving them. The doctor will also check for lumps, hand deformities, and swelling.
A simple visual inspection and symptom review are often enough to diagnose trigger finger. Therefore, diagnostic imaging techniques such as X-rays and MRI scans are most often unnecessary.
How Doctors Treat Trigger Finger
The best way to help trigger finger recover is to let it rest. Avoiding stressful and forceful movements can help promote healing. Using a splint or brace as an immobilizer can help achieve this outcome. Likewise, injectable medication can help improve function. Injecting the finger tendon sheath with lidocaine will allow the finger to bend and move more smoothly.
Occasionally, gently stretching the finger can help maintain the finger’s flexibility. Hand therapy can help improve finger strength and flexibility, too.
If medications, splinting, or hand therapy remain unsuccessful, joint surgery on the trigger finger may be necessary. Trigger finger surgery is performed by making a small incision on the finger to release the tendon sheath that constricts the tendon.
Trigger Finger and Joint Surgery Specialists In Clinton Township, MI
Trigger finger can pose significant difficulties in doing daily activities. People who do repetitive hand and finger movements or have arthritis are more prone to develop hand conditions. If you think you have trigger finger, it’s best to look for expert and reliable orthopedic care. If you’re in Southeastern Michigan, look no further than Movement Orthopedics.
Dr. Troy Williams, Movement Orthopedics’ board-certified hand surgeon, has years of experience in hand and joint surgery. He has worked with many people with wrist, hand, and finger conditions, including trigger fingers. With his expertise, you can rest assured to keep your hand and fingers at their best. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Williams by calling (586) 436-3785 or by filling out our appointment request form. We are at your service!