Have you ever woken up in the morning to find that one of your fingers or your thumb is locked? Or have you noticed that the base of your finger has been very stiff and/or sore recently?
If so, you may be suffering from a common condition known as a “trigger finger,” or stenosing tenosynovitis. It can affect any finger in the hand, and can range from mild pain to significant discomfort and “triggering” of the affected finger.
What is Trigger Finger?
Trigger finger/thumb affects the pulleys and tendons in the hand that bend the fingers. “Triggering” occurs when the pulley at the base of finger/thumb becomes thickened and constricts the tendon, making it difficult for the tendon to move through its normal range of motion. Because of this inflammation through the pulley-tendon mechanism, the patient may feel pain, popping, or locking of the finger.
What Causes Trigger Finger?
Sometimes the causes of a trigger finger are not always clear. One may develop trigger finger after an acute injury to the hand such as a fall or trauma to the palm. Some diseases, such as diabetes or carpal tunnel syndrome, may increase the risk of developing trigger finger. Most of the time the cause is unknown.
How is Trigger Finger Treated?
The goal of treatment is to eliminate pain and locking of the finger/thumb by decreasing the swelling around the flexor tendon and tendon sheath. Mild trigger fingers may be managed by oral anti-inflammatories, stretching exercises, and splitting techniques. Moderate trigger fingers may require localized steroid injection to reduce inflammation. Persistent severe trigger fingers may require a minor surgical procedure to release the pulley mechanism to allow the tendon to glide through its full range of motion.
In any situation, the sooner you come in for an evaluation of the finger/thumb, the better your clinical outcome will be. Please contact our office if you feel you may have a trigger finger/thumb.
Dr. Paul D. Pace is a board certified surgeon with The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group. He is fellowship trained in hand and microvascular surgery and treats conditions of the hand and wrist for patients of all ages. His special interests include the prevention and treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Pace, please call 210.281.9595.