If you have noticed a catching sensation when you attempt to bend and straighten your finger, it is possible you are experiencing a condition known as trigger finger. This can be quite painful as it locks the joints in your finger. If you are experiencing trigger finger, here are some symptoms, causes, and treatments we suggest.
WHAT IS TRIGGER FINGER?
Also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, trigger finger occurs when inflammation creates a swelling of the tendon that narrows the sheath between the tendon and the finger. When severe, fingers can be locked. The following indicates a higher risk association of developing or be a sign you are already experiencing trigger finger:
- Hobbies and occupations that involve extended periods of gripping
- Stiffness of fingers, often accompanied by popping or clicking
- Tenderness or bumps at the base of your finger
- Catching or locking sensations when fingers are bent or straightened
- Women and those who suffer from diabetes are at higher risk
CAUSES & TREATMENT
Each tendon is encased by a protective sheath that protects the fibrous cords that attach bone to muscle. When the protective sheath becomes inflamed or irritated, the natural gliding motion is interrupted and trigger finger is soon to follow. If left untreated, the sheath can become scarred which will in turn lead to a thickening of the tissue that will appear as bumps under the skin.
An orthopedic specialist can examine and diagnose the condition. They will ask you to open and close your hand to look for signs of locking, pain, and bumps that may be under the skin. They will also feel your palm to check for lumps. Treatment will vary depending on the severity. A typical treatment plan will include resting your hand and abstaining from motions that may have helped cause the problem.
In some cases, you will be asked to wear a finger splint at night and take ibuprofen to help alleviate pain and inflammation. If the condition is more severe, your doctor will likely inject the area with steroids to help the tendon sheath be able to glide more smoothly. If this is the case, your doctor will layout a treatment plan of multiple injections over a couple of months.
If issues persist, the final step is the have surgery on the finger. It is an outpatient procedure performed with local anesthetic where a small incision is made at the base of your finger to open the sheath around the tendon. Physical therapy will help the recovery process and recovery time is typically only a few weeks before full use is reinstated.
Understanding symptoms and causes of trigger finger can help you catch it sooner. If you believe you are experiencing symptoms, reach out to us at Great Lakes Orthopedics today to schedule a visit.
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