Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that affects the tendons in your fingers or thumb. It occurs when the tendons become inflamed or irritated, leading to difficulties in moving the affected finger smoothly. The condition is called "trigger finger" because the finger may suddenly snap or lock into a bent position and then release, similar to the action of pulling and releasing a trigger.
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What is trigger finger and how is it caused?
Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition characterized by the compression of tendons at the base of the fingers. It can affect any digit, including the thumb, index finger, and middle finger. The name "trigger finger" comes from one of the typical symptoms experienced by patients, where the finger locks in a bent position, usually in the morning. To unlock the finger, one must apply some force, which results in a clicking or snapping sensation.
While the classic symptom of locking and unlocking is common, not all patients with trigger finger experience this. Some individuals may present with a stiff finger that is difficult to bend or straighten. Pain is a primary identifying factor for trigger finger.
In the treatment of trigger finger, there are various approaches that can be effective. Seeking the assistance of a local massage therapist can help alleviate muscle tension in the affected area. Consulting a personal trainer can be beneficial for strengthening the muscles surrounding the finger. Additionally, a physiotherapist can provide techniques for releasing tension and improving finger mobility.
It's important to note that the mentioned treatment options are general suggestions, and the best course of action may vary for each individual. Consulting a healthcare professional, such as a hand specialist or orthopedic doctor, is advisable to receive a proper diagnosis and personalized treatment plan for trigger finger.
Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition characterized by a finger that is bent and cannot straighten out. It is typically accompanied by pain, primarily felt at the base of the digits in the palm. Some patients may mistakenly believe that the problem originates from the small joint of the finger when, in reality, it stems from the lower base of the hand.
The exact cause of trigger finger is not well understood. However, it is believed to be a result of constriction that occurs within the tunnel, known as the pulley system, through which the tendon travels at the base of the finger. This constriction can be due to swelling of the tunnel or swelling of the tendon itself, causing the tendon to become tight and limiting its ability to glide smoothly. The limited motion, pain, and the locking or triggering effect experienced by patients are common symptoms.
Trigger fingers generally occur spontaneously, without a clear identifiable cause. It is not attributed to any specific action, diet, or medication taken in the past. It is considered an idiopathic condition, meaning its exact origins are unknown.
While trigger finger can affect individuals of various ages, it is more commonly observed in patients in their fifth or sixth decade. However, it can also occur in younger individuals in their 30s or older individuals in their 80s. There appears to be a slightly higher prevalence in women, although the reasons for this are unclear. Trigger finger can affect any digit and can occur in either hand, regardless of hand dominance. It often begins with one finger but may progress to involve other fingers over time.
In some cases, trigger finger may have a traumatic onset, where a minor injury precedes the development of symptoms. However, it is believed that the injury merely triggers the condition, which was likely to occur even without the injury. The injury acts as a precipitating factor rather than the primary cause.
If you suspect you may be experiencing trigger finger or have further questions about the condition, it is advisable to seek attention from a local physiotherapist or orthopedic surgeon. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options based on your individual case. Dr. Bert Perey, MD, FRCPC, Orthopedic Surgeon
The tendons in your fingers normally glide smoothly through a series of sheaths or tunnels. In the case of trigger finger, inflammation or thickening of the tendon or its sheath can restrict the tendon's movement, causing it to catch or get stuck when attempting to straighten the finger. When the finger does straighten, it often releases with a popping or snapping sensation.
Some common symptoms of trigger finger include:
If you suspect you have trigger finger, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional, such as a primary care physician or a hand specialist. They can evaluate your condition, provide a proper diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment options. Treatment may involve conservative measures such as rest, splinting, or medication, and in some cases, more advanced treatments like corticosteroid injections or surgery may be necessary to alleviate the symptoms and improve finger movement. Dr. Bert Perey, MD, FRCPC, Orthopedic Surgeon