Trigger Finger & Trigger Thumb
Ask anyone who has experienced the symptoms of stenosing tenosynovitis, and they will tell you just how uncomfortable and debilitating it can be. In fact, it is one of the most common causes of hand pain and limited range of finger and thumb motion.
Locked fingers or thumbs can be incredibly painful and interfere with everyday life. Losing the ability to use your hands can even jeopardize your career and reduce your overall quality of life. Fortunately, there are several trigger finger and trigger thumb treatment options available. Please contact expert hand specialist Dr. Michael Fitzmaurice in Scottsdale for the comprehensive care and cutting-edge treatment you deserve.
What are Trigger Finger and Trigger Thumb?
The conditions known as trigger finger or trigger thumb are caused by swelling along the tendon in the palm of the hand and outward towards the finger or thumb. The tendons are tough bands of tissue that pass from the wrist and palm toward the fingers and thumbs through ligaments or pulleys. The tendons are held in place along the bones of the fingers by the pulleys, while a lubricating membrane helps provide easy movement of the tendons.
If a tendon or pulley becomes inflamed, whether due to excessive use or trauma, the tendon and/or pulleys may thicken with scar tissue and form lumps called nodules. As the thickened tendon pulls through the pulley, it causes constant irritation, which results in further swelling and inflammation. Eventually, the tendons and pulleys may become so scarred and inflamed that the tendons become pinched and locked in place when the finger or thumb is bent.
What Causes Fingers to Become Locked (known as Trigger Finger)?
Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout can cause increased swelling around the tendon and subsequently lead to trigger finger or trigger thumb. In many cases, people who perform repetitive activities, such as playing an instrument or forceful gripping actions, such as when riding a bike or using power tools, are more susceptible to this locked finger condition. However, more often than not, no specific cause is identified. The condition affects women more often than men around the ages of 40 to 60 years old.
Symptoms of locked fingers include pain when moving the fingers, swollen or sensitive fingers, and popping or snapping sensations, as well as locking up and the inability to fully straighten the fingers. A lump may even form around the joint. These symptoms tend to worsen if left untreated.
Non-Surgical Treatments for Stuck Fingers
Depending on the severity of the condition and the symptoms, it is possible to treat trigger finger with conservative methods, such as medicine, rest, and restricted movement. Simply allowing the inflamed tendons to rest and recover for a few weeks, and even restricting movement with a splint, can alleviate pain and improve movement. Many patients find relief by applying an ice pack to the palm several times a day or soaking the hand in warm water, as well as performing gentle stretching exercises.
In some cases, local steroid injections have been shown to help treat early forms of trigger finger by reducing inflammation and shrinking any nodules. However, most patients are not content to spend many weeks being treated with conservative measures only to have the locked finger symptoms return. For more serious and persistent cases of trigger finger or trigger thumb, surgery or minimally invasive treatment may be necessary.