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Trigger Finger – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that affects the tendons in the fingers or thumb, causing them to become inflamed and making it difficult to straighten or bend the affected digit. The condition gets its name from the snapping or triggering sensation that occurs when attempting to move the affected finger. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for trigger finger.

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Table of Contents

Causes

The exact cause of trigger finger is not always clear, but certain factors can contribute to its development. One common cause is repetitive hand and finger movements, such as gripping tools, typing, or playing musical instruments, which can irritate the tendons over time. People with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes are also at an increased risk of developing trigger finger. Additionally, the condition can occur as a result of direct trauma or injury to the affected finger.

Symptoms

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The primary symptom of trigger finger is the difficulty in moving the affected finger. Initially, you may notice stiffness or a popping sensation when attempting to straighten or bend the finger. As the condition progresses, the finger may become locked in a bent position, and you may experience pain or discomfort at the base of the finger or thumb. In some cases, a visible lump or nodule may develop in the palm near the affected finger.

Diagnosis

If you suspect you have trigger finger, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis. The doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical examination of your hand and fingers. They may ask you to move your fingers in various ways to assess the range of motion and observe any triggering or locking. In some cases, imaging tests, such as an X-ray or ultrasound, may be ordered to rule out other conditions.

Treatment

The treatment for trigger finger depends on the severity of the symptoms. In mild cases, conservative measures may be sufficient. These include:

  1. Rest and Modification of Activities: Avoiding activities that aggravate the symptoms can help reduce inflammation and allow the tendons to heal.
  2. Splinting: Wearing a splint or brace to immobilize the affected finger can provide support and promote healing.
  3. Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  4. Finger Exercises: Gentle exercises and stretches prescribed by a physical or occupational therapist can improve the range of motion and flexibility of the affected finger.

In more severe cases or when conservative measures fail to provide relief, medical interventions may be necessary. These can include:

  1. Corticosteroid Injections: A corticosteroid injection into the affected tendon sheath can help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms.
  2. Percutaneous Release: In this procedure, a healthcare professional uses a needle to release the constricted tendon sheath, allowing the finger to move freely.
  3. Surgery: If other treatments are ineffective, surgical intervention may be recommended. The surgeon will make a small incision to release the affected tendon sheath and alleviate the symptoms.

Prevention

While trigger finger may not always be preventable, certain measures can reduce the risk of developing the condition. These include:

  1. Taking regular breaks during activities that involve repetitive hand or finger movements.
  2. Using ergonomic tools and equipment that minimize stress on the fingers and hands.
  3. Maintaining a healthy weight and managing conditions like diabetes or arthritis that increase the risk of trigger finger.

Conclusion

Trigger finger can be a frustrating and painful condition that affects the movement of the fingers or thumb. Recognizing the causes, symptoms, and treatment options can help individuals seek timely medical attention and find relief. By adopting preventive measures and seeking appropriate treatment, individuals can manage trigger finger effectively and improve their hand functionality and overall quality of life. If you suspect you have trigger finger, consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.

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