I often have patients who come into the clinic with complaints of a finger that gets stuck in the flexed position and when they try to straighten it, they have pain and the finger “pops” back into a straightened position instead of moving smoothly like usual. Trigger finger is a form of tenosynovitis which is inflammation of a tendon and it’s protective layers.
Tenosynovitis : A condition when the tendon (strong band of tissue that connect the muscle of your hand to your finger bones) and the covering around it get inflamed. It is most common in the hand and wrist but can occur in the ankle as well.
1) Repeated use of the hand or wrist – same movement over and over again
2) Infections – bacteria can spread to the tissues usually underneath the skin where the infection started.
Symptoms: Pain and/or stiffness in the finger that is usually worse in the morning. It can also cause a popping, catching or clicking sensation of the finger as it is brought into extension. Sometimes the finger can get locked into a flexed position without being able to straighten it. Often a small bump at the base of the palmar side of the affected finger is able to be felt. Sometimes there is swelling of the fingers or hand and trouble grabbing or gripping objects. It’s most common in the thumb and middle fingers.
Testing: Usually your doctor can diagnose tenosynovitis by clinical exam but they may decide to do some further testing such as an x-ray, ultrasound, MRI or blood tests especially if there is a history of trauma/injury or infection.
Treatment: Treatment will depend on the cause however it is often treated with a steroid injection into the area of the affected tendon. This may reduce the swelling and allow the tendon to move more smoothly. It may also be treated with surgery or antibiotics if there is an infection. Often rest is the best treatment along with ice to reduce the swelling to the area. Putting a cold pack, or bag of frozen vegetables on the swollen area every 4-6 hours for 15 minutes at a time can be helpful.
Ibuprofen or naproxen can also help with the pain and inflammation but are usually not curative. Finger stretches after the symptoms improve may be helpful to get your fingers back to moving normally.
This document is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual patient. If you have questions please contact your medical provider.
I hope that you have found this information useful. Wishing you the best of health,
Scott Rennie, DO