What Is Trigger Finger?

Each of your fingers contain tendons that ensure your fingers can bend and straighten easily. These tendons operate by gliding under a protective tunnel of tissue that keep the tendons close to your finger bones. When this tunnel becomes thick or damaged, it’s difficult for your tendons to glide through it. As a result, your finger stays stuck in a bent position.

You may be able to straighten the affected finger, likely hearing a snapping or popping sound with the motion. The term trigger finger comes from these sounds, which are very similar to the sound made when you pull a trigger and release it.

Causes of trigger finger

The protective tunnel that supports the tendons can become irritated due to repetitive motions, especially gripping movements. This irritation can develop into an inflammation that worsens over time, causing your finger to lock in a bent position. You can also develop small bumps and scar tissue that interfere with the normal motion of the tendon.

Trigger finger is also common in people with diabetes. More women seem to develop the condition than men, but anyone is susceptible to trigger finger.

Any of your fingers can be affected by trigger finger, including your thumb. It’s also possible that more than one finger can become bent at the same time.

Scheduling an evaluation

Trigger finger can be very uncomfortable, and you may wish to seek treatment to relieve your discomfort and regain full use of your fingers.

Treatment can effectively release the tendons in your finger to ensure you’re able to keep working and enjoy activities and hobbies that require gripping and other finger motions.

You should always have a medical evaluation if the joint of your finger has become swollen or hot to the touch. These symptoms can indicate that you have an infection in the joint.

Treatments for trigger finger

Traditionally, you’ll want to try nonsurgical options first in order to relieve your pain and increase mobility in your fingers. A number of options are available, including using over-the-counter medications to reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort.

Stretching exercises can also help reduce stiffness and strengthen the muscles and tendons in your fingers.

Steroid injections into the tendons and their protective sheath can also improve the gliding motion, relax the finger, and make it easier to straighten. These injections can provide you with significant, long-term relief of trigger finger symptoms, lasting up to a year or more.

When to consider hand surgery

When nonsurgical treatments aren’t effective in relieving your symptoms, Dr. Wimalawansa may recommend hand surgery. Surgery can release the obstructions surrounding the problematic tendons to restore functionality in your fingers.

The specialized technique he uses for this type of surgery requires only a small incision near the base of the affected finger, so you can expect to heal quickly and regain control of your fingers.

Soon after surgery, you need to start moving your finger, doing gentle exercises to reduce stiffness and increase finger mobility. As you continue to heal, you should find finger movements to be easier and less painful.

If you live in or around Dayton or Kettering, Ohio, don’t delay treatment for painful trigger finger. Schedule an evaluation at Advanced Plastic & Hand Surgery by phone or click the “request appointment” button.

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