Trigger finger is a disorder characterized by swelling of the tendons in or around the hand. Tendons are bands of fibrous connective tissue that connect muscles and bones. They allow the muscles to pull on the bones, enabling movement.
Trigger fingers can cause pain and may limit movement of the thumb and fingers. Gentle stretching can help relieve these symptoms.
What is a trigger finger?
Performing specific stretches for your trigger finger may help relieve pain and reduce stiffness.
The hand contains the flexor tendons, which connect the muscles of the forearm to the bones of the thumb and fingers. Flexor tendons run through structures called tendon sheaths that run from the wrist to the fingers.
Inside the tendon sheath are special "pulleys" that hold the tendon near the thumb and phalanges. As the forearm muscles contract, the tendon slides over the pulley, allowing the thumb or other fingers to flex.
In the trigger finger, the tendon or its pulley becomes inflamed, which means the tendon cannot easily pass through the pulley. Instead, the tendon can get stuck on the tendon sheath, causing the affected thumb or finger to lock into place.
Doctors sometimes refer to the trigger finger as stenosing tenosynovitis.
Scientists don't yet know the exact cause of trigger finger, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). However, using the thumb or other fingers vigorously may increase a person's risk of developing the disease.
Trigger finger is also more common in people with the following health conditions:
Trigger finger usually causes discomfort where the finger or thumb meets the palm. Other symptoms may include:
- a sudden feeling
- a feeling of grabbing
- Limited movement of the affected finger or thumb
Trigger finger symptoms may be worse when a person first wakes up in the morning.
Conservative noninvasive treatment may include:
rest. Avoid activities that require repeated grasping, repeated grasping, or prolonged use of vibrating hand-held machines until symptoms improve. If you can't avoid these activities entirely, then padded gloves may offer some protection.
a splint. Your doctor may have you wear a splint at night to keep the affected finger in an extended position for up to six weeks. A splint helps to rest the tendon.
Stretching exercises. Your doctor may also recommend gentle exercises to help keep your fingers mobile.
when to see a doctor
In many cases, trigger finger gets better with rest, splints, and over-the-counter pain relievers.
However, people should see a doctor if the pain is severe or if symptoms do not go away with treatment.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend steroid injections to reduce swelling and inflammation in and around the affected tendon. Steroid injections can relieve the problem within a day to a few weeks.
If steroid injections don't work, your doctor may recommend surgery to release the tendon.
In some cases, the trigger finger disappears on its own within a few weeks.
People who experience severe or persistent trigger finger may need steroid injections to reduce swelling and inflammation.
In severe cases, your doctor may recommend a procedure called tenolysis or trigger finger release. The surgery aims to release the pulley that is blocking the movement of the tendon.
Surgery may be required if:
- persistent pain in the affected finger
- Reduced movement of the affected fingers
- Digits remain permanently locked in bent position
Surgery may cause temporary tenderness, discomfort, and swelling that can last up to 6 months. After surgery, some people may need hand therapy to re-use their thumbs and fingers.
Some ways to help prevent trigger finger include:
Avoid repetitive grasping or grasping movements
- Avoid Vibrating Handheld Machinery
- Avoid any activity that makes trigger finger symptoms worse
Trigger finger is the medical term for swelling of the tendon or pulley in the hand that enables movement of the fingers and thumb.
Trigger finger usually gets better with rest, splints, and over-the-counter medications. Gentle stretching can help relieve stiffness and increase the range of motion in the affected hand.
Anyone experiencing severe or persistent pain from trigger finger should see a doctor. A doctor may recommend steroid injections. If this treatment option is unsuccessful, your doctor may recommend surgery.