Trigger Finger is a form of tenosynovitis which results in the finger becoming bent in towards the palm of the hand. This can also occur in the thumb.
Symptoms of trigger finger include pain at the base of the finger on the palm side. The finger will be more stiff and painful in the mornings. There may be tenderness when touching the area and a lump called a nodule may be felt at the base of the finger. The finger tip will be constantly bent at rest and the patient will have difficulty straightening it.
Tenosynovitis is an inflammatory condition of the sheath that surrounds a tendon. The tendon becomes inflamed and thickened. This means that it cannot slide through the tunnel created by the overlying tissues as smoothly as it usually does. Therefore the finger gets stuck in a bent position and may click or lock.
Whilst there is no specific cause there are a number of factors which may make an individual more prone to developing the condition:
- Females over the age of 40.
- Previous injuries to the finger.
- Repetitive movements of the hands or long periods of gripping.
- Those with rheumatoid arthritis are more at risk.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
- De Quervains tenosynovitis.
- Dupuytren's contracture.
- Underactive thyroid.
Diagnosis can usually be made via observation and description of the symptoms. However, in some cases an MRI scan may be used. It is generally agreed that surgery is the best treatment for trigger finger.
Conservative treatment may be attempted in minor or early cases. This may include rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication, splints and sometimes a corticosteriod injection.
Surgery involves a release of the tendon. This means the tissues over the top of the tendon, which form a tunnel through which the tendon passes, are cut to allow the tendon to move more freely.
It is usually possible to move the finger quite soon after surgery. This helps to prevent it being stiff. Rehabilitation involving hand exercises using putty and therapy balls helps maintain full strength and movement.