What is Trigger Finger?
- Stenosing Tenosynovitis, more commonly known as “Trigger Finger,” is a common hand disorder that occurs when the tendon sheaths that flexor tendons move through thicken and restrict movement. The flexor tendons are cord-like structures attaching the muscles of the forearm to the finger bones, allowing the fingers to bend. Along the tendon sheath the flexor tendons run through are “pulleys” that hold the tendons close to the finger bones; these pulleys (most commonly the A1 pulley) can become inflamed or thicken so it is harder for the flexor tendon to glide through.
What causes Trigger Finger?
- Trigger fingers can be more common in individuals with medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and diabetes. Repeated and intense gripping or just forceful use of the fingers can also lead to trigger finger, but in most cases the exact cause is not known. It can occur in both children and adults with it being more common in individuals over 45.
What are the symptoms of Trigger Finger?
- If you have Trigger Finger, you will likely be experiencing discomfort and pain at the base of the affected finger where it meets the joint. A lump might be felt, as well as a popping or catching sensation, limited feeling, and limited finger movement. The most commonly affected fingers are the ring finger and thumb, and in some cases fingers may get stuck in a bent position that must be straightened with the other hand. Stiffness and locking tends to be worse after a period of inactivity, like when waking up in the morning. Most symptoms start without a specific injury.
How is Trigger Finger treated?
- Trigger finger is typically treated non-surgically, with gentle exercises to decrease stiffness and increase range of motion, NSAIDs, and steroid injections. Relief can be provided surgically with a trigger finger release or “tenolysis,” a procedure that releases the pulley blocking tendon movement so the flexor tendon can glide with more ease. The constriction can also be relieved by dividing the thickened area of the tendon sheath. Most patients will be able to move their finger immediately after surgery, with soreness in the palm common and swelling and stiffness sometimes taking 4-6 months to go away completely.