Trigger finger is a condition in which one of your fingers gets stuck in a bent position. Your finger may bend or straighten with a snap-like a trigger being pulled and released.
Trigger finger is also known as stenosing tenosynovitis. It occurs when inflammation narrows the space within the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. If trigger finger is severe, your finger may become locked in a bent position.
People whose work or hobbies require repetitive gripping actions are at higher risk of developing trigger finger. The condition is also more common in women and in anyone with diabetes. Treatment of trigger finger varies depending on the severity.
HAND & WRIST ANATOMY
Finger stiffness, particularly in the morning.
A popping or clicking sensation as you move your finger.
Tenderness or a bump (nodule) in the palm at the base of the affected finger.
Finger catching or locking in a bent position, which suddenly pops straight.
Finger locked in a bent position, which you are unable to straighten.
Tendons are fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone. Each tendon is surrounded by a protective sheath. Trigger finger occurs when the affected finger's tendon sheath becomes irritated and inflamed. This interferes with the normal gliding motion of the tendon through the sheath.
Prolonged irritation of the tendon sheath can produce scarring, thickening and the formation of bumps (nodules) in the tendon that impede the tendon's motion even more.
Avoid activities that require repetitive gripping, repeated grasping or the prolonged use of vibrating hand-held machinery until your symptoms improve. If you can't avoid these activities altogether, padded gloves may offer some protection.
Your doctor may have you wear a splint at night to keep the affected finger in an extended position for up to six weeks. The splint helps rest the tendon.
Your doctor may also suggest gentle exercises to help maintain mobility in your finger.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
NSAID medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or naproxen (Aleve) — may relieve the pain but are unlikely to relieve the swelling constricting the tendon sheath or trapping the tendon.
An injection of a steroid medication near or into the tendon sheath may reduce inflammation and allow the tendon to glide freely again. This is the most common treatment, and it's usually effective for a year or more in most people treated. But sometimes it takes more than one injection.
For people with diabetes, steroid injections tend to be less effective.
After numbing your palm, the surgeon inserts a sturdy needle into the tissue around your affected tendon. Moving the needle and your finger helps break apart the constriction that's blocking the smooth motion of the tendon.
This treatment may be done under ultrasound control, so the surgeon can see where the tip of the needle is under the skin to be sure it opens the tendon sheath without damaging the tendon or nearby nerves. This procedure is usually done in the doctor's office or in an office procedure room.
Working through a small incision near the base of your affected finger, the surgeon can cut open the constricted section of tendon sheath. This procedure is usually done in an operating room.
CONTACTING DR. PERLMUTTER
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