The medical name for trigger finger is stenosing tenosynovitis, and the cause is inflammation of the sheaths that surround the tendons that connect the muscles and bones of your finger joints. You can develop trigger finger in any of your fingers or your thumbs.
Dr. David Dickerson and Dr. Shawn Denning at Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine and their staff have helped many patients dealing with hand issues, including trigger finger, and understand how the condition makes even small tasks more difficult. Simply picking up a glass is difficult if any of your fingers are stuck in a bent position!
The mechanics of trigger finger
Your tendons attach muscle to bone throughout your body, including in the joints of your fingers. Each tendon is surrounded by a soft tissue sheath that protects and lubricates the joint. If you clench your hands, grip objects, or exert force with your fingers repeatedly, those sheaths can become irritated and inflamed.
The inflammation makes it difficult for your tendon to move as it usually does when you bend and straighten your finger. You may find that your finger doesn’t want to bend or that it resists straightening, and when it does, it’s with a snapping or popping sound. Without treatment, scars may form on the tendon and your finger may become permanently bent.
Who develops trigger finger
Trigger finger is often related to repetitive motions. For example, if your job or your hobby requires you to grip something and hold the position repeatedly, you may be at a greater risk for developing trigger finger.
Some medical conditions also raise your risk of trigger finger. For example, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes are both associated with a higher risk.
Women are more likely to have trigger finger than men, and if you’ve had surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome you have a higher risk of developing it. The risk is especially high during the first year following your surgery.
What to watch for
Trigger finger can be mild and annoying, or severe and debilitating — or anywhere in between. You may have trigger finger in multiple fingers or your thumbs, in either or both hands. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Stiff fingers, especially in the morning
- Clicking or popping sound when you bend your fingers
- Fingers that lock into a bent position and suddenly pop back straight
- Permanently bent fingers
- Tenderness or bumps at the base of your finger on the palm side
- Numbness or pain in your finger joints
You may also notice visible inflammation in the affected finger. If you do, or if your finger feels hot, it could indicate infection, and you should seek medical treatment.
Treatment options for trigger finger
The best treatment depends on how severe your case of trigger finger is. The doctors at Performance Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine usually begin with the most conservative treatment and progress from there if necessary.
We may recommend anti-inflammatory medications to help ease the pain, but they don’t usually help with the underlying cause of the inflammation. In some cases, we may recommend corticosteroid injections, depending on your overall health.
Another common treatment is called percutaneous release. It breaks up the scar tissue that may be interfering with the movement of your joint. Your doctor uses ultrasound imaging to guide a needle and pierce the sheath of your tendon. We use anesthetic to keep you comfortable during this procedure. In some cases surgical intervention is the best way to restore the mobility of your fingers.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of trigger finger or you have restricted motion, discomfort, or pain in your fingers, call or message us today for an appointment at our Shrewsbury or Toms River, New Jersey office.