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Trigger Finger: What It Is, Its Causes And How It Can Be Treated

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If you have difficulty fully extending one or more of your fingers or experience pain while doing so, you may have trigger finger. Below is more information about this painful condition, such as its causes and how it can be treated.

What Is Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger, officially known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a fairly common condition affecting the fingers and thumbs. Trigger finger can affect anyone, but it is more prevalent in women than men.

Trigger finger occurs whenever the sheath surrounding the tendon of one of the fingers or thumbs becomes inflamed or whenever a tendon develops a nodule. The inflammation or obstruction in the form of a nodule prevents the tendon from moving freely inside the sheath.

As a result, the affected finger is not able to bend without restriction or pain and can actually become "stuck" in its flexed position. For some persons, trigger finger can be the source of significant pain, though its severity varies by individual.

What Causes Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger can be caused by several factors, some of which are behavioral and others which are a result of other illness or injury. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Repetitive use of the affected finger - Using the affected hand to perform repetitive actions that involve grasping is a leading cause of trigger finger. Such actions can include carpentry or working with vibrating machinery.

  • Diabetes - Another common cause of trigger finger, diabetes impacts the way in which connective tissue joins together.

  • Arthritis - Trigger finger also tends to develop in individuals with arthritis due to the negative influence of arthritis on connecting tissue.

Other less common causes include injury to the hand, which can lead to nodule development and to trigger finger.

Treatment Operations for Trigger Finger

Trigger finger can be successfully treated through the use of several different modalities. Most doctors seek to treat trigger finger with conservative options before advancing to more invasive treatments. Several of the most common treatment options are listed below.

Finger Splinting

Finger splinting involves the use of a splint device to hold the affected finger in its extended position. Splinting provides comfort for the finger by preventing it from flexing into a painful, stuck position. In addition, a splint will immobilize the tendon sheath and tendon, thus permitting these structures to rest and heal over time.

Steroid Injections

Another popular treatment option for trigger finger is steroid injections. This treatment is popular due to the treatment's simplicity and repeatability.

When giving steroid injections, the doctor inserts a syringe into the most painful spot and injects a predetermined amount of medicine. The steroid medication then acts to lessen swelling and allows the sheath to begin functioning as normal.

Percutaneous Therapy

Percutaneous therapy is the use of a needle to enlarge the opening of the tendon sheath. This needle is inserted by a skilled surgeon and is then manipulated carefully to clean up the interior space. Percutaneous therapy can take place in almost any medical office environment.

Open Therapy

The last treatment option is conventional surgery, also known as open therapy. Open therapy involves making an incision at the base of the finger and then cutting open the affected tendon sheath. This is designed to give the tendon room to move inside the sheath and prevent binding.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of trigger finger, then you need to make an appointment with a qualified surgeon from a place like Town Center Orthopaedic Associates, P.C. as soon as possible. A surgeon who specializes in hand surgery will be able to answer questions about the procedures mentioned above and help make sure those who need help receive it.