By Dr Tony Setiobudi BMedSci, MBBS, MRCS, MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho)
Do your fingers lock up when you are holding something or working with your hands? You may be experiencing a trigger finger. It’s a painful condition that makes it hard to move or use your fingers.
What is a trigger finger?
A trigger finger is a condition that affects one or more of the hand’s tendons, making it difficult to bend the affected finger or thumb. The bent finger gets stuck in a bent position. Trigger finger results from tendon inflammation, the tendon is unable to pass easily through the pulley. Instead, the tendon may catch on the tendon sheath, causing the affected thumb or finger in the lock position. The doctor sometimes refers to the trigger finger as stenosing tenosynovitis.
Trigger finger typically causes discomfort at the point where a finger or thumb meets the palm. Other symptoms can include:
- Sensitivity to pressure
- Popping sensation
- Limited movement in the affected finger or thumb
The symptoms of trigger finger may be worse when a person first wakes up in the morning.
Trigger fingers are more common with certain medical conditions. Risk factors may increase your chance of experiencing finger, including these medical conditions, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, gout. Repeated and strong gripping may lead to the condition.
A trigger finger is a very common and treatable problem. The goal of treatment is to reduce or eliminate the swelling and catching/locking, painless movement of the affected fingers or thumb.
Common treatment options include:
- Splinting at night. Pain and locking can be more frequent at night and in the early morning. By using night split to keep the finger straight, it can prevent painful locking during sleep.
- Exercise/ hand therapy. Exercise at home can be helpful to alleviate the pain and stiffness.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Oral or topical anti-inflammatory medication can be tried to relieve pain and improve the ability to move the finger through a large arc.
- Changing your activity. Limit or reduce the amount of time spent in forceful, repetitive, or sustained gripping
- Steroid injection. You might also consider steroid injection treatment if you are experiencing severe trigger finger symptoms. These injections are usually effective for a year or longer.
- If non-surgical treatment does not relieve the symptoms, surgery may be recommended.
If you are experiencing numbness, pain, stiffness, or the inability to straighten or bend a finger, it’s best to visit us. To treat your trigger finger symptoms or learn more, please contact us today or schedule an appointment.
Dr Tony Setiobudi is an Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard), Singapore. He treats bone, joint, muscle and ligament problems in adults and children. He has a special interest in nerve compression and spine problems such as back & neck pain, scoliosis, kyphosis, spine tumor & infection, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis fracture, spinal stenosis and slipped disc.