Although rare, the lifetime risk of developing trigger finger is 2% to 3%. Many of our patients have asked our EmergeOrtho physicians to explain trigger finger (also known as stenosing tenosynovitis). What are the causes and symptoms? And, how is the condition treated?
At EmergeOrtho, our fellowship-trained orthopedic specialists have specific training in addressing conditions of the hand, wrist, and fingers. Our skilled, practiced, and knowledgeable doctors are here to help answer the questions relating to trigger finger and provide guidance on how best to treat the condition.
Trigger Finger Causes and Symptoms Explained
To explain trigger finger, it is helpful to visualize the tendons of the finger accompanied by pulleys. These pulley mechanisms, like those in an elevator, help the finger to move up and down—or rather, bend and straighten. When the “pulleys” surrounding the tendon of the finger thicken, the mobility of the finger is restricted. This causes the finger to lock into a bent position, similar to the posture of a person getting ready to fire a gun.
Causes of trigger finger are not well known. Some factors that may contribute to developing the condition include:
- Activities of the Hand/Fingers
Those who stress the fingers and thumb repeatedly, especially in an occupation or activity that requires constant gripping, may be more susceptible to developing trigger finger.
- Medical Conditions
People with underlying medical conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes are more prone to experiencing trigger finger.
Evidence suggests that trigger finger peaks at two different periods in a person’s life. The first is prior to the age of eight. The second occurs between the ages of 40 and 50.
The same evidence referenced above by The National Center for Biotechnology demonstrates that women are more likely to be affected by trigger finger, and more so in their dominant hand.
Many times, symptoms of trigger finger can occur without any notable reason. Patients with trigger finger may exhibit one or more of the following:
- Sensation of popping, catching or locking of the finger
- Lump at the base of the finger that often feels tender (on the palm side of the hand)
- Pain, especially when the finger is bent or straightened
- Stiffness and difficulty moving the finger (tends to worsen after periods of rest)
In more severe cases of trigger finger, the finger remains in a locked bent position.
Trigger Finger Treatment
EmergeOrtho physicians have been treating a vast array of finger injuries and conditions for decades. Our experience enables us to explore all nonsurgical options before considering surgery.
For mild cases of trigger finger, our specialists may recommend:
- Avoiding repetitive gripping for three to four weeks
- Taking NSAID pain relievers
- Receiving steroid injections (steroid injections are effective in about 50% of cases.)
Patients who experience more extreme cases of trigger finger may require percutaneous release. This procedure uses a needle to release a locked finger. This release technique is most effective for the index, middle, and ring fingers.
When the “locking” doesn’t respond to any other treatments, surgery may be needed. During a consultation, your physician will review your case and help identify what treatments might work best for your individual needs. If surgery is necessary, your surgeon will discuss the implications and explain what you can expect in terms of the procedure and recovery time.
According to Trigger Finger in Adults, published in the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, the “surgical management, involving percutaneous or open release of the A1 pulley, has a success rate of nearly 100%.”
No matter what type of treatment you need for trigger finger, our highly trained and compassionate orthopedic specialists are known for the sophisticated and innovative care they provide.
If trigger finger is causing you pain and discomfort, our board-certified and board-eligible EmergeOrtho Hand and Wrist Physicians are ready to help. Request an appointment now.