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Trigger Finger

What Is Trigger Finger?

If you find that your finger frequently gets stuck while bending or flexing, it may be a type of tendinitis known as Trigger Finger, also known as Trigger Thumb or stenosing tenosynovitis. This condition may cause a popping or snapping noise when bending or straightening your finger, and in extreme cases, the finger may become fully locked in a bent position. This occurs when inflammation around the base of the finger restricts free movement of the tendon. If left unaddressed, this can lead to progressively worse inflammation.

What Are The Causes Of Trigger Finger​?

Trigger finger develops when the protective sheaths around your finger tendons become inflamed. Sometimes called pulleys, these sheaths allow for the gliding motion that usually occurs as tendons slide through them, causing bones and muscles to move.

When they inflame and become irritated, the sheaths interfere with these movements, causing the jerking motion and stiffness associated with trigger finger.

When left untreated, this irritation can cause scarring and thickening of the sheath. Sometimes nodules, or small bumps, form on your tendons, creating even more immobility and inflammation.

The cause of tendon sheath inflammation is often unknown, but some risk factors may influence the condition’s development:

  • Prolonged period of hand use
  • Repeated gripping or pinching
  • Diagnosed with certain medical conditions, particularly rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and diabetes

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Trigger Thumb?

When you have trigger finger, also called trigger thumb, you may experience pain or discomfort at the base of the digit in question. The area where your finger or thumb joins your palm may become sensitive or form a lump. After a period of inactivity, your fingers or thumb may stiffen.

In some cases, your finger or thumb may pop, catch, or lock. Over time, your mobility might be limited. Your finger may begin to bend and, without treatment, the immobility can become permanent.

What Are The Risk Factors Of Trigger Finger?

You’re more likely to develop trigger finger or trigger thumb if you frequently perform activities that involve tight grasping, flexing of the fingers, or operating vibrating machinery. Trigger finger occurs more often among women than men, and can also associated with diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Trigger finger can also arise as a complication following trauma or post-surgical hand swelling.

How Is Trigger Thumb Diagnosed?

No advanced testing is necessary to diagnose trigger finger. Dr. Nance will perform a physical examination of the hand, observing the way the hand opens and closes to identify possible symptoms such as pain or clicking of the affected joint.

What Are The Possible Treatments?

Dr. Nance treats your trigger finger in the least invasive way possible. Many cases benefit by reducing the inflammation in the joint, which can eliminate the catching and locking that’s associated with trigger finger.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, Dr. Nance may suggest wearing a night splint and resting the area throughout the day. The use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications may also reduce your symptoms.

If not, Dr. Nance opts for steroid injections. These injections can reduce the swelling and pain associated with trigger finger, and allow the sheaths and tendon to move freely. When steroid injections fail to improve your condition, surgery may be necessary to prevent permanent finger disfigurement.

When trigger finger starts causing you pain, don’t wait, call Dr. Nance’s office today. You can even go online to schedule.

Meet Dr. Erin Nance

Dr. Erin Nance specializes in orthopedic hand and upper extremity surgery, as well as traditional orthopedic services. Dr. Nance takes her time with every patient in her Midtown East, New York office, ensuring everyone gets the care and attention they deserve. Learn More »

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