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Trigger Finger

Anatomy

Trigger finger limits finger movement. When you try to straighten your finger, it will lock or catch before popping out straight.

The muscles that move the fingers and thumb are located in the forearm, above the wrist. Long tendons — called the flexor tendons — extend from the muscles through the wrist and attach to the small bones of the fingers and thumb.

These flexor tendons control the movements of the fingers and thumb. When you bend or straighten your finger, the flexor tendon slides through a snug tunnel, called the tendon sheath that keeps the tendon in place next to the bones.

The flexor tendon can become irritated as it slides through the tendon sheath tunnel. As it becomes more and more irritated, the tendon may thicken and nodules may form, making its passage through the tunnel more difficult.

The tendon sheath may also thicken, causing the opening of the tunnel to become smaller.

If you have trigger finger, the tendon becomes momentarily stuck at the mouth of the tendon sheath tunnel when you try to straighten your finger. You might feel a pop as the tendon slips through the tight area and your finger will suddenly shoot straight

Trigger Finger

Causes

  • Trigger fingers are more common in women than men.
  • They occur most frequently in people who are between the ages of 40 and 60 years of age.
  • Trigger fingers are more common in people with certain medical problems, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Trigger fingers may occur after activities that strain the hand.

Symptoms

  • A tender lump in your palm
  • Swelling
  • Catching or popping sensation in your finger or thumb joints
  • Pain when bending or straightening your finger

Stiffness and catching tend to be worse after inactivity, such as when you wake in the morning. Your fingers will often loosen up as you move them.

Treatments

Non-Surgical Treatment

Rest-If symptoms are mild, resting the finger may be enough to resolve the problem. Your doctor may recommend a splint to keep your finger in a neutral, resting position.

Medications– Over-the-counter pain medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDS) or acetaminophen can be used to relieve the pain.

Steroid Injections-Your doctor may choose to inject a corticosteroid — a powerful anti-inflammatory medication — into the tendon sheath. In some cases, this improves the problem only temporarily and another injection is needed. If two injections fail to resolve the problem, surgery should be considered.

Surgical Treatment

Trigger Finger

The goal of surgery is to widen the opening of the tunnel so that the tendon can slide through it more easily. This is usually done on an outpatient basis, meaning you will not need to stay overnight at the hospital.

Most people are given an injection of local anesthesia to numb the hand for the procedure.

The surgery is performed through a small incision in the palm or sometimes with the tip of a needle. The tendon sheath tunnel is cut. When it heals back together, the sheath is looser and the tendon has more room to move through it.

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