Trigger finger is the common term used for indicating forefinger of your right hand. In medical terms, trigger finger is a condition used to describe defective tendon that creates jerk in the finger to snap straight when you extend the hand. It locks the finger inward and in some cases thumb also gets locked. It causes intense pain due to inflammation. Normally the tendon will move smoothly through the tissue covering called “sheath” owing to the presence of special lubricating fluid synovium. However when the tendon develops swelling the bent finger would pull the tendon inward via the narrowed sheath thus making it snap.
When the person extends his hand the tendon gets momentarily struck and locked at the mouth of the sheath tunnel. This condition is described as trigger finger. This is also called as stenosing tenosynovitis. People who make repeated gripping movements are vulnerable for developing trigger finger. Complete resting, applying hot or cold compression and stretching exercises can give relief from pain. In severe cases surgical intervention is necessary.
Trigger Finger Symptoms :
Symptoms of pain and stiffness can be mild for some people and severe for others. Trigger finger can cause morning stiffness, pain and tenderness at the base of the finger. Sometimes a clicking sensation can be felt as the finger gets locked when the person moves the finger. Bumps or lesions can be formed in the palm and sometimes the finger gets locked inward thus restricting the movement.
Often this condition is seen in the thumb or middle finger only. For some people only one finger is affected and for others two fingers. Similarly it may involve one hand or both the hands. Pain is felt when one tries to straighten the finger or tries to hold some object. As one takes rest during night, there will not be any movement of fingers and this can cause rigidity or stiffness. That is perhaps the reason for morning stiffness of tendons of finger.
Trigger Finger Causes :
Repeated movements of finger can induce trigger finger. Certain medical problems like arthritis, gout and prolonged diabetes can be the cause. When the tendon sheath gets irritated this can narrow the available space thus restricting the movement of the tendons. If a person holds firmly some powerful tool for long duration it can cause scarring of tendons.
Risk Factors :
People whose job involves holding and gripping tools for long time, people who make repeated movements of fingers and hands, and those with prolonged diabetes or arthritis are at increased risk of getting trigger finger. For example, musicians, farmers and some industrial workers make frequent movement of their fingers. Aged people particularly women are at risk of developing this problem.
Trigger Finger Tests :
No test is needed to detect trigger finger. Your doctor would collect complete medical history and physically examine the affected finger. He would ask you to straighten your finger gently to check its position.
Images, Pics, Photos and Pictures of Trigger Finger :
Trigger Finger Treatment :
OTC drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen can give relief from pain. But you should not use it for extended duration. Conservative methods like hot/cold therapy is very effective in treating trigger finger. The affected person should take complete rest avoiding any activities with hand or wrist. Wearing a splint or similar device during night time can help in complete resting of tendons inside. You need to wear them at least for 6-8 weeks as per the instructions of your doctor.
Stretching exercises are useful in giving flexibility of joints of the hand. For severe cases your doctor may consider giving a shot of steroid injection directly into the tendon sheath. This would reduce inflammation significantly. But you need to repeat this at regular intervals. About 90% of the people feel that taking steroid injection is very effective. Surgery is considered only if the above options fail to manage pain and rigidity. Your surgeon would make small incision at the base of the finger to clear the constricted part of the tendon sheath. This is a small procedure and can be done on outpatient basis by giving local anesthetic on the finger.
Complete recovery from trigger finger is possible in most of the cases. But you need to follow the instructions of your doctor in taking medications and wearing splint (if recommended).