What’s a Trigger Finger?
Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that affects the tendons in the fingers or thumb. It occurs when the affected finger or thumb becomes temporarily stuck in a bent position and then suddenly pops or snaps straight. This sensation is often compared to the action of pulling and releasing the trigger of a gun, which is how the condition got its name. Trigger finger can cause pain, discomfort, and difficulty moving the affected digit.
The tendons that bend the fingers and thumb glide through a tunnel-like structure called the tendon sheath. Trigger finger occurs when there is irritation, inflammation, or thickening of the tendon or the sheath, leading to difficulties in movement. Factors that contribute to trigger finger include:
- Repetitive Motion: Repetitive gripping or grasping motions can increase the risk of irritation and inflammation.
- Medical Conditions: Conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout can increase the risk of developing trigger finger.
- Age: Trigger finger is more common in individuals between the ages of 40 and 60.
- Gender: Women are more likely to develop trigger finger than men.
- Catching Sensation: The finger or thumb may get stuck in a bent position and then suddenly release with a snapping or popping sensation.
- Pain: Pain or tenderness at the base of the affected finger or thumb.
- Stiffness: Stiffness and difficulty straightening or bending the finger.
- Swelling: Mild swelling and a bump may be felt in the palm of the hand.
Diagnosing trigger finger involves:
- Medical History: Information about the patient’s symptoms, activities, and medical history.
- Physical Examination: Assessing the affected finger’s range of motion, any catching sensations, and swelling.
- Clinical Observation: Sometimes, the snapping or locking of the finger can be observed during the examination.
Treatment for trigger finger depends on the severity of the condition. Options include:
- Rest: Resting the affected hand and avoiding activities that worsen symptoms.
- Hand Splinting: Wearing a splint to immobilize the affected finger may help reduce irritation and promote healing.
- Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or oral steroids may help reduce inflammation and pain.
- Hand Exercises: Gentle exercises and stretches can help improve finger mobility and flexibility.
- Corticosteroid Injections: Injecting corticosteroids into the tendon sheath can reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms.
- Surgery: In severe cases that do not respond to other treatments, a surgical procedure to release the tight portion of the tendon sheath may be considered.
If you suspect you have trigger finger or are experiencing symptoms, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider. They can provide a proper diagnosis, recommend appropriate treatment options, and offer guidance on managing the condition effectively. Early intervention can help prevent worsening symptoms and complications.
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