What is Trigger Finger?
Trigger finger (AKA, stenosing tenosynovitisis) is a condition whose effect can range from mildly irritating to severe and debilitating. What is a trigger finger? Medically speaking, this is when the finger or thumb gets stuck in a bent position and then when it does straighten, it does so with a snap or clicking sensation/sound that is reminiscent of the release of a trigger. In some severe cases of trigger finger syndrome, the thumb or finger can become stuck in the bent position.
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Other trigger finger symptoms include pain and stiffness in the fingers that is especially apparent late at night and early in the morning. Other possible symptoms of trigger finger include swelling and the formation of a bump known as a nodule at the base of the finger.
A trigger finger injury will generally occur in the dominant hand in the thumb, middle or ring finger. Some do experience this condition in both hands, however.
Trigger Finger Causes
What causes trigger finger from a more anatomical perspective is a narrowing of the protective sheath that surrounds the tendon of the affected finger or thumb. This sheath is filled with a lubricating fluid that enables the tendon to glide smoothly through the sheath. If this substance becomes inflamed, it can narrow the sheath to such an extent that it catches the finger in a bent position. The force to move the finger out of the bent position, in turn, irritates the tendon, compounding the problem.
If one does not seek treatment for trigger finger, scarring and thickening of tissues can occur, resulting in the formation of nodules.
The causes of trigger finger are not as well understood, but some generalities about what causes the irritation can be made. Trigger finger is thought to be more common among those whose hobbies or careers that involve repetitive gripping motions. It is also more common among women and adults between the ages of 40 and 60. Certain conditions are also thought to be associated with trigger finger/thumb, such as rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism or trigger finger diabetes.
Trigger Finger Treatment for Mild Cases
Trigger finger diagnosis is fairly simple in that it involves a doctor examining the hand and its movement and taking a look at one’s medical history. The severity of the injury will determine treatment of trigger finger or trigger thumb.
In instances of mild trigger finger, a doctor will likely recommend rest from the irritating activity and use of a trigger finger splint. This trigger finger brace may also be recommended for night use as it prevents one from curling the hands into fists while sleeping.
Trigger finger exercises may also be helpful toward maintaining the mobility of the finger. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also aid in getting the inflammation under control to minimize trigger finger pain.
Some natural cures for trigger finger also include soaking the hand in warm water or giving the hand a massage. Some also have success with acupuncture for trigger finger treatment and other alternative treatment methods.
How to Treat Trigger Finger for More Serious Cases
In more serious cases of this condition, a doctor may recommend a trigger finger injection of a steroid. But this provides just temporary relief and thus is not a trigger finger cure. More permanent modes of treatment include trigger finger release or trigger finger surgery.
For percutaneous trigger finger release, a local anesthesia is used to numb the hand so that the doctor can use a needle to release the locked finger.
Trigger finger release surgery is typically only pursued after other more conservative methods fail as it does involve some risks and pain. The procedure widens the tunnel through which the affected tunnel must pass.
Trigger finger surgery recovery can take months and it requires engaging in trigger finger therapy to prevent stiffness. Post-surgery therapy for trigger finger may also involve use of a splint for trigger finger or a thumb stabilizer.