What Is Trigger Finger?
Trigger finger and trigger thumb, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, are problems with the tendons of the finger. Tendons attach the muscles of the forearm, which control the fingers, to the finger bones. These tendons pass from muscle to bone through a tunnel called the tendon sheath.
The tendons can become irritated as they move within the tendon sheath, which may cause growths on the tendon, called nodules. These nodules make it more difficult for the tendon to move through the sheath. The sheath itself can also thicken, resulting in the same difficulty. This causes the finger to get stuck in a curled position.
Trigger finger can affect any finger, including the thumb. Symptoms include:
- A lump in the palm
- Finger popping or catching when extending or straightening it
- Fingers locking up in a bent position
- Pain when bending or straightening the finger
Causes and Risk Factors
Most of the time the exact cause of trigger finger is unknown. Factors that can increase the risk of trigger finger include:
Though trigger finger can affect any digit, the ring finger and the thumb are most often affected.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A physical examination may be all that’s needed to diagnose trigger finger. X-rays occasionally also help diagnose the condition.
Mild symptoms can usually be treated with rest and over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Corticosteroid injections are the best non-operative option to decrease the swelling and inflammation and potentially allow the finger to move correctly again.
Surgery to correct trigger finger is another option. The goal of trigger finger release surgery is to release the tendon sheath and give the tendon the ability to move without constriction. The surgeon cuts the sheath in the hope that it will heal in such a way as to leave enough room for the tendon.
Patients are often able to move their finger again immediately after the surgery. Recovery is usually complete in a few weeks but may take up to six months.
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