Does your finger feel like it catches or briefly locks when you bend it? Or do you have palm pain near the bottom of a finger? If so, you may have a trigger finger.
Our orthopedic team at Cascade Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center, P.C., specializes in healing wrist and hand pain, including providing non-surgical treatments for trigger fingers.
However, it’s essential to know that your chances of success with non-surgical treatment improve the earlier you seek help. Waiting until you must manually unbend the finger or it gets stuck in a bent position reduces the effectiveness of non-surgical care.
About trigger finger
The tendons that bend your fingers are surrounded by a tube-shaped lining (sheath) and supported by a network of soft tissues called pulleys that hold the tendon close to the finger bones.
The tendon should glide smoothly through the sheath as you bend and straighten your fingers. But when the tendon, sheath, or pulley becomes inflamed or thickened, the tendon loses mobility, and trigger finger begins.
The tissues progressively thicken, and moving your finger becomes more difficult without treatment.
As the tendon struggles to move, the sheath tries to overcome the problem by producing more lubricating fluid. Unfortunately, the extra fluid adds pressure, making it hard for the tendon to move.
Trigger finger symptoms
In addition to the sensation of locking during finger movement and difficulty bending and straightening your finger, you may have other symptoms, including:
Many people have pain or tenderness in their palms at the base of the affected finger. You may only feel pain when you press against your palm or grip objects.
As your trigger finger progresses, you may develop a lump at the base of your finger. The lump is usually caused by swelling in the tendon. A cyst may develop in some cases.
Stiffness and loss of movement
Stiffness and difficulty moving the finger increase. Finger movement may cause pain, and over time, you may be unable to straighten the finger.
If your finger stays bent for an extended time, ligaments associated with the injured finger shorten and tighten, further limiting finger movement.
Trigger finger risk factors
Your chances of developing a trigger finger increase if you engage in repetitive squeezing or gripping hand movements. Repeated movements put excessive stress on the tendons, leading to the inflammation and thickening responsible for trigger finger.
We can recommend ways to prevent a trigger finger if you have a job, hobby, or play sports that demand repetitive or prolonged gripping.
Medical conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and hypothyroidism also increase your risk for trigger finger. The best way to prevent trigger finger is to get treatment and follow an exercise regimen that supports your hand and finger movement.
Non-surgical treatments for trigger finger
Non-surgical treatments often heal a trigger finger, especially when treatment begins before finger movement stops. We recommend one or more of the following:
Rest and splinting
Avoiding activities that require you to bend the finger is essential. You may rest the finger by being aware of how you use your hand and gripping with other fingers. However, you may need a finger splint to hold the finger in a straight position.
We teach gentle stretching exercises to improve movement and decrease stiffness.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like acetaminophen can ease your pain and reduce inflammation.
Injecting corticosteroids into the tendon sheath is often the first line of treatment, depending on the severity of your symptoms. Corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatory medications with the potential to cure a trigger finger.
We may recommend a second corticosteroid treatment if the first one doesn’t help. But if the finger doesn’t improve after the second injection, the next step is surgery to release the tendon.
Connect with the Cascade Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center, P.C. team at the first sign of a trigger finger. Call the Hood River or The Dalles, Oregon, office or request an appointment online.