Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a painful condition caused by the locking or catching of the fingers/thumb when bent. Tendons connect the bones and muscles in your body. The tendons work in tandem with the muscles in your arms and hands to assist in the bending and straightening of your thumbs and fingers.
A tendon can sometimes become swollen and inflamed. This can affect the tendon’s motion. When you bend your thumb or finger when the tendon is swollen and inflamed, it will pull the tendon via a narrowed tendon sheath, which will make it pop or snap.
If you experience a painful snapping or clicking while straightening or bending your fingers, then it is recommended that you come in for a physical exam for a diagnosis of whether you have trigger finger or not. If you have trigger finger, then it is best to get it treated as soon as possible. If not, your thumb or affected finger may get stuck in a bent or straightened position permanently.
Potential Causes of Trigger Finger
Diabetes, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis can cause trigger finger. People who use their fingers repeatedly or forcefully for a prolonged period of time, such as musicians, industrial workers, farmers, and so on, are more prone to trigger finger.
Treating Trigger Finger with Steroid Injections
Steroid injections usually contain cortisone and a numbing medicine. These injections are administered into the tendon sheath. Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It is a steroid that is produced normally by your body. Corticosteroids will reduce the swelling of the tendon. This will allow the tendon to freely move again.
The injection normally takes effect within a few days. This treatment is found to permanently cure the condition for 50 to 80% of the people afflicted with trigger finger.
For some people, a corticosteroid injection will only work for a limited period of time, especially if they have underlying health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. They can try a second corticosteroid injection. However, after that, the doctor will most likely recommend surgery, as repeated cortisone intake can cause damage to cartilage/tendons.
Treating Trigger Finger with Release Surgery
Factors such as the intensity of the pain, existing medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, how much the trigger finger is affecting your life, and so on are considered before a surgery is recommended. Most often, a surgery can permanently fix the problem. Only in rare cases will the condition return.
You will be given a local anesthesia before the release surgery to numb the area. During open trigger finger surgery, the surgeon will make a small incision in the palm of your hand and then cut through the tendon sheath carefully to make it wider.
The surgery normally takes only about 30 minutes. You can go home after the surgery – no need to stay in the hospital. Your surgeon will tell you how to take care of the wound, as well as whether/when to return to remove any stitches.
You should be able to move your finger right after the surgery. You may remove the surgical dressings after a few days, and any discomfort or soreness due to the surgery will pass within two or three weeks.
Schedule an Appointment
Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Conrad Tirre is a precise and skilled medical professional with years of experience. To speak with Dr. Tirre regarding trigger finger and more, schedule an appointment for a consultation by contacting us today.