Trigger Finger – Causes and Treatment
The muscles of the forearm and the bones of fingers are attached by flexor tendons. These tendons glide over other tissues, usually termed as “pulleys”, that also hold the tendons close to the finger bones. The flexor tendons help you bend your fingers to make a grip or to pinch. But sometimes a pulley (usually A1 pulley located at the base of fingers) and its tendon may be inflamed, leading to trigger finger.
What is Trigger Finger?
Dr Vijay Kumar Sohanlal, an expert orthopaedic surgeon, explained that the inflammation or thickening of a pulley hinders the gliding movement of its flexor tendon. Over time, even the tendon may get inflamed. This affects the finger to which the tendon is connected, as the finger’s bending movement becomes limited. There is usually a popping sensation while bending and the finger may seem to lock in place when bent. The condition mostly affects the ring finger or the thumb and is accompanied by pain and tenderness. The condition is called Stenosing Tenosynovitis. It’s also called Trigger Finger as the locked finger in the bent position looks as if you’re pulling a trigger.
The affected finger or thumb usually feels sore and you may have a popping or catching sensation while bending the finger or the thumb. You may experience pain and stiffness in the fingers. In severe cases, the affected finger or thumb may get locked in the bent position.
Trigger finger may occur:
- When the tendons are subjected to repeated strenuous movements like frequent and strong gripping.
- Based on gender as it’s more common in women.
- Based on certain medical conditions. Diabetics and those suffering from gout and arthritis are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
- In people within the age group of 40 and 60 years.
Dr Vijay Kumar, a senior specialist in joint replacement and orthopaedics at MGM healthcare and Mahi Clinic, explained that the treatment depends on the condition of the patient. He says that in mild cases following some of the below-mentioned steps can give relief:
- Avoid the repetitive activities that caused the condition as well as those that may make it worse.
- It’s better to keep the affected finger or thumb straight with a splint or brace, especially at night.
- Anti-inflammatory medicine may help reduce the swelling. Corticosteroid injections may also be given.
In some severe cases, surgery may be required. Your orthopaedic doctor conducts physical checks and studies your medical history before recommending surgery. Dr Vijay, who has over a decade of experience in treating mild to critical orthopaedics problems at Mahi Clinic – Chennai, explains that it’s an outpatient surgery and hospitalization is not required.
He says that the patient is given local anaesthesia and a tiny incision is made in the palm. The purpose of the incision is to widen the space around the tendon. The extra space allows the tendon to resume its gliding movement. The functionality of the affected finger or thumb is then restored.
The recovery depends on certain factors like the patient’s medical history and age. Usually, the patient recovers in a few weeks.