Trigger finger, also called stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition in which one of the fingers gets stuck in a bent position. You will notice how your fingers will bend or straighten with a quick movement, resembling a trigger being pulled and released.
Trigger finger is a very painful condition. Knowing the causes and symptoms of this ailment will help you take the precautionary measures to prevent the condition or learn how to effectively manage this condition.
Causes of Trigger Finger
Trigger finger occurs as a result of inflammation in the sheath surrounding the tendons of your finger. Tendons are the fibrous material that connects the muscle to the bone.
Inflammation in the surrounding sheath results in narrowing of the space between the sheath and tendon, thereby leading to the development of trigger finger.
The condition tends to develop more rapidly in people using their fingers and thumbs repeatedly. Various diseases such as diabetes, gout, arthritis, and muscular disorders have also been known to induce the development of trigger finger. The disease is also more prevalent in elderly people.
Symptoms of Trigger Finger
Symptoms vary according to the severity of the condition whether it is mild or moderate.
Usually, the condition is more prominent in the fingers as compared to the thumbs. The following are some of the symptoms associated with the condition:
- Locking of the fingers in a bent position
- Pain during straightening the fingers
- Sudden popping of the fingers following the snapping or catching
- Intense pain during popping
- Soreness at the base of the finger or thumb
- Stiffness in hands, fingers, and thumb
- Restricted movement of the phalanges early during the day
In addition, the patient often experiences pain while gripping an object. Restricted movement of the fingers tends to affect an individual’s daily routine more significantly.
The condition rarely affects more than one finger at a time. The symptoms are more pronounced early in the morning or late at night.
Diagnosis of Trigger Finger
Diagnosis of trigger finger is almost always done by a physical examination. The triggering is examined on each of the fingers and thumbs.
Treatment Strategies for Trigger Finger
Various treatment strategies have been recommended for trigger finger, many based on the severity of the condition.
Various nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been found to be effective in relieving pain during snapping or popping. Drugs such as diclofenac, naproxen, and ibuprofen are most commonly used. Additionally, these drugs are effective in reducing the inflammation.
Although not effective in providing immediate relief, various therapies are used in addition to drug administration or surgical interventions. These include:
Ice/Heat Treatment: Soaking the hand either in ice-cold water or warm-water alleviates the pain. Moreover, the treatment tends to reduce the morning stiffness and swelling associated with the condition.
Exercises: Mild physical therapy is recommended in patients with intense stiffness. This is effective in maintaining the mobility in the fingers and/or thumb.
Rest: Rest acts as a good medium to avoid to any activities related to gripping, or activities requiring repeated use of the fingers or thumbs. This speeds up the recovery process following the treatment.
Complications Associated With Trigger Finger
One of the most common complications associated with this condition is joint flexion contracture. This is a degenerative condition, which usually affects elderly people.
Additionally, complications such as degenerative arthritis and various bone disorders are some of the other rare complications.
Diagnosis of arthritis using x-rays is quite detrimental for trigger finger. X-rays tend to intensify the condition and interfere with the effective management of trigger finger.
Surgical Interventions Used for Trigger Finger
An injection of corticosteroid is effective in reducing inflammation in the sheaths. However, in patients non-responsive to the initial injection, a follow-up injection is used.
It is used when all the other regimens fail. This is used by making an incision at the base of the finger.
This condition is often quite painful and requires immediate intervention. If you happen to experience any of the previously mentioned symptoms, request to meet with your doctor and speak about different conventional and alternative treatment options.
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