In trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis (stuh-NO-sing ten-o-sin-o-VIE-tis), one of your fingers or your thumb gets stuck in a bent position and then straightens with a snap — like a trigger being pulled and released. If trigger finger is severe, your finger may become locked in a bent position.
Often painful, trigger finger is caused by a narrowing of the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. People whose work or hobbies require repetitive gripping actions are more susceptible. Trigger finger is also more common in women and in anyone with diabetes.
Treatment of trigger finger varies depending on the severity.
Signs and symptoms of trigger finger may progress from mild to severe and include:
Trigger finger more commonly occurs in your dominant hand, and most often affects your thumb or your middle or ring finger. More than one finger may be affected at a time, and both hands might be involved. Triggering is usually more pronounced in the morning, while firmly grasping an object or when straightening your finger.
Trigger finger is not the same as Dupuytren's contracture — a condition that causes thickening and shortening of the connective tissue in the palm of the hand — though it may occur in conjunction with this disorder.
When to see a doctor
The cause of trigger finger is a narrowing of the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. Tendons are fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone. Each tendon is surrounded by a protective sheath — which, in turn, is lined with a substance called tenosynovium. The tenosynovium releases lubricating fluid that allows the tendon to glide smoothly within its protective sheath as you bend and straighten your finger — like a cord through a lubricated pipe.
But if the tenosynovium becomes inflamed frequently or for long periods, the space within the tendon sheath can become narrow and constricting. The tendon can't glide through the sheath easily, at times catching the finger in a bent position before popping straight. With each catch, the tendon itself becomes more irritated and inflamed, worsening the problem. With prolonged inflammation, scarring and thickening (fibrosis) can occur and bumps (nodules) can form.
Trigger finger generally results from swelling within a tendon sheath, restricting tendon motion. A bump (nodule) also may form. ...
Factors that put you at risk of developing trigger finger include:
Preparing for your appointment
You'll probably start by seeing your family doctor or regular health care provider to determine what could be causing your symptoms.
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
For trigger finger, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared, don't hesitate to ask questions any time during your appointment if you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Questions your doctor might ask include:
Tests and diagnosis
Diagnosis of trigger finger doesn't require any elaborate testing. Your doctor or health care provider makes the diagnosis based on your medical history and a physical exam. During the physical exam, your doctor will ask you to open and close your hand, checking for areas of pain, smoothness of motion and evidence of locking. Rarely, your doctor may inject a numbing medication (local anesthetic) to reduce pain so that he or she can proceed with the physical exam of your fingers and hand.
Treatments and drugs
Trigger finger treatment varies depending on its severity and duration.
Treatment of mild cases
Treatment of serious cases
Lifestyle and home remedies
Certain self-care measures may alleviate trigger finger symptoms:
Last Updated: 2011-10-25
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