Trigger finger is a type of swelling or inflammation of the tendons that causes the fingers and thumb to flex into the palm. It is more common in women than men. Trigger finger is often seen in people who have de Quervain’s disease or carpal tunnel syndrome. It also may occur in those who have rheumatoid arthritis, gout, diabetes or other disorders that cause connective tissue changes.
Trigger finger is a repetitive stress injury that can be caused by a repeated or forceful use of the finger or thumb. It occurs when inflammation narrows the space within the sheath that surrounds the flexor tendon so the tendon can no longer smoothly glide through. This produces painful “clicking” as the tendon passes through. Eventually the finger can become “locked” as the tendon is no longer able to pass through the sheath. The most commonly affected digits are the thumb and ring finger.
People initially complain of pain over the palm. Over time, their finger or fingers may get stuck in a bent position, then snap as they are bent and straightened. People may need to use their other hand to pull the finger straight.
Treatment for trigger finger starts with rest and steroid injections. Splinting the fingers straight can avoid triggering and prevent tendon irritation. If symptoms persist, surgery is often required and can permanently cure the condition.
The surgery is a minor outpatient procedure using local anesthesia. During surgery, a short incision is made in the skin of the palm. The thickened sheath is then released with scissors or a scalpel, and the tendon is able to glide again without catching on the sheath. There is a short recovery period and people are encouraged to use their hands as soon as possible after surgery to prevent stiffness.
If you have any concerns regarding your hands – trigger finger, tingling, numbness, weakness, swelling, joint pain, inability to grasp small objects or other symptoms – our hand specialists can help diagnose and treat the problem in our Danbury office.