Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that causes one or more fingers to get stuck in a bent position and then suddenly snap straight. The cause of trigger finger is usually due to inflammation or irritation of the flexor tendon sheath in the affected finger or thumb. The flexor tendon is a tough cord-like structure that connects the muscles of the forearm to the bones in the fingers and thumb, allowing them to bend.
When the flexor tendon becomes irritated or inflamed, the tendon sheath narrows, making it difficult for the tendon to glide smoothly through the sheath. As a result, the tendon can get stuck or catch, causing the finger to lock in a bent position. This can cause pain, stiffness, and a popping or clicking sensation when the finger is moved.
Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition where one of the fingers or thumb gets stuck in a bent position and then suddenly snaps back into place, like a trigger being pulled and released. The symptoms of trigger finger may include:
Several factors can contribute to the development of trigger finger, including repetitive gripping or grasping activities, such as typing or playing a musical instrument. Certain medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, or gout, can also increase the risk of developing trigger finger.
The exact cause of the inflammation is not always clear, but several factors may contribute to the development of trigger finger, including:
Repetitive Motion: Activities that involve repetitive gripping or grasping, such as playing an instrument, using tools, or typing, can increase the risk of developing trigger finger.
Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and hypothyroidism, can increase the risk of developing trigger finger.
Injury: A direct injury to the affected finger or thumb can cause inflammation and lead to trigger finger.
Gender: Women are more likely to develop trigger finger than men.
Age: Trigger finger is more common in people over the age of 40.
Genetics: There may be a genetic component to trigger finger, as it tends to run in families.
Medications: Certain medications, such as steroids, can increase the risk of developing trigger finger.
To diagnose a trigger finger condition, a doctor will typically perform a physical exam and review your medical history. During the physical exam, the doctor will assess the affected finger or thumb for signs of inflammation, such as swelling, redness, and tenderness. They will also assess finger mobility and look for any nodules or bumps on the affected finger or thumb.
In some cases, the doctor may perform additional tests, such as an ultrasound or X-ray, to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as arthritis or a bone fracture.
The doctor may also perform a “trigger test,” where they ask you to make a fist and then open your hand slowly. If you have trigger finger, the affected finger or thumb may snap or lock when you try to straighten it.
Treatment for trigger finger may depend on the severity of the condition. In some cases, conservative treatments may be effective, while more severe cases may require surgery. Some of the treatment options for trigger finger may include:
Rest and Immobilization: Resting the affected finger or thumb and avoiding activities that cause pain can help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms.
Splinting: Wearing a splint to keep the affected finger or thumb straight can help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms.
Anti-inflammatory Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Corticosteroid Injections: Injecting corticosteroids into the affected area can help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms.
Hand Therapy: A physical or occupational therapist can teach exercises to improve finger and hand mobility and reduce pain.
Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to release the constricted tendon sheath and restore normal finger or thumb movement.