Treating trigger finger
There are several treatment options are available for trigger finger, including
- Rest and medication – painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be used to reduce swelling.
- Anti-inflammatory injection – that may be used to reduce swelling.
- Surgery on the affected sheath – surgery involves releasing the affected sheath to allow the tendon to move freely again. This is a relatively minor procedure that is generally used when other treatments have failed. It can be up to 100% effective.
If trigger finger is not treated, the affected finger could become permanently bent, which will make performing everyday tasks difficult.
Although most cases of trigger finger only affect one finger, it is possible for several fingers to be affected. If you have trigger finger in more than one finger the first time you notice a problem, you are three times more likely to have another finger affected in the future.
What is Trigger Finger?
Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a painful condition that affects the tendons in the hand. When the finger or thumb is bent towards the palm, the tendon gets stuck and the finger clicks or locks.
Trigger finger can affect one or more fingers. The symptoms can include pain, stiffness, clicking and a small lump of tissue at the base of the affected finger or thumb (known as a nodule).
What causes trigger finger?
Tendons are fibrous cords that join bone to muscle. They allow the bone to move when the muscle contracts. In the hand, tendons run down the bones in the fingers and are attached to the muscles in the forearm.
The tendons are held in place by strong bands of tissue, known as ligaments, which are shaped in arches over the tendon. These ligaments form a tunnel on the surface of the bone, which the tendons slide through. This tunnel is known as a tendon sheath.
Trigger finger occurs if there is a problem with the tendon or sheath, such as swelling, which means the tendon can no longer slide easily through the sheath. This makes it harder to bend the affected finger or thumb. If the tendon gets caught in the opening of the sheath, the finger can give a painful click, like a trigger being released, as it is straightened.
The cause of trigger finger is not known, but several things may increase the likelihood of it developing. For example, it is more common in:
- people who are over 40 years of age
- people with certain medical conditions
Conditions that can make trigger finger more likely include conditions such as diabetes. Around 10% of people with diabetes develop trigger finger.