Trigger Finger seems to be a diagnosis many people are familiar with but not actually sure what the diagnosis entails and what can be done to prevent or treat it.
This condition, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, occurs when inflammation narrows the space in the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the finger. This means that the finger doesn’t move smoothly anymore – in fact, it often “snaps” from a bent position to a straight position, similarly to a trigger being pulled and released. If the swelling is severe enough, it could cause a finger to remain in a bent position. So what exactly causes trigger finger?
Why Does Trigger Finger Develop?
This condition can affect a variety of people. However, there are a few who are much more susceptible to developing it. These include:
- Women between the ages of 52 and 62
- People who have diabetes
- People with work or hobbies that involve repetitive gripping actions or motions
If you fall into any of these categories, you might be more prone to developing this condition. It’s important to use preventative measures such as resting or alternating the motions of your fingers and hands. Resting when fingers and hands are swollen and changing up your actions, you may be able to prevent getting or worsening the condition.
What Are Common Symptoms of Trigger Finger?
If you think you are experiencing this condition or are worried about developing it, here are some common symptoms to take note of.
These signs and symptoms could be mild or severe. Here’s what to look for:
- Your finger is locked in a bent position and you can’t straighten it
- There’s a popping or clicking sensation when you move your finger (different from “cracking knuckles”)
- Your finger “catches” or locks in bent position and then suddenly snaps straight
- You notice a bump at the base of the affected finger
It’s also really important to note that this condition can affect ANY finger. Including your thumb. Also, more than one finger can be affected at any time, on either or both hands. You also might notice these symptoms more in the morning as opposed to later in the day. If you do, definitely make an appointment with a licensed hand therapist or doctor to confirm the condition and start treatment.
The Best Treatment Options to Consider
Treating your trigger finger definitely depends on the severity of your condition. If it’s in the early stages, then rest, stretching, and alternating your motions could help prevent it from getting worse. Your doctor will be able to advise you on what’s best for your fingers.
However, if your condition has progressed and is considered severe by a doctor or hand therapist, then there are other options to consider. These include:
- Medication – such as anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil or Ibuprofen. These wouldn’t necessarily help treat the problem, but they would help with the pain.
- Rest – avoiding activities such as gripping, grasping, or repetitive use of vibrating hand-held machinery.
- Splints – a custom hand splint made by a therapist could help you rest the tendon and keep the affected finger in an extended position.
- Stretching exercises – your hand therapist may also recommend some gentle stretching exercises to improve and maintain the affected finger’s mobility.
All of these non-invasive and gentle treatments are good to consider if you’re experiencing this condition. A licensed hand therapist could definitely steer you in the right direction depending on the severity of the affected finger.
Trigger finger is no picnic – but there are ways to help prevent and treat its symptoms. If you think you might have this condition, seek out professional help so you can make sure you’re on the right track towards healing.
Thank you to Arizona’s Desert Hand Therapy for this helpful information!