Trigger Finger

Trigger finger is a painful condition, that affects the tendons in the hand, caused by inflammation and subsequent narrowing of the first annular pulley. This unpleasant condition causes pain, clicking, catching, and loss of motion of the affected finger.

Prevalence, main causes and associated conditions

Trigger finger is a common cause of pain and disability in the hand. The incidence of this condition varies from 2% to 3% in the general population. The main causes of trigger finger are repetitive finger movements, compressive forces at the first annular pulley, repetitive local traumas. Trigger finger is more common in women than in men.

The occupation of a person is a major risk factor. People who have occupations involving repetitive movements or workers doing unaccustomed tasks during their work have a much higher risk to experience trigger finger and its’ symptoms. Such professions as farmer, industrial worker or musician has a higher risk of getting trigger finger.

The prevalence of trigger finger is approximately 5 times higher in patients with diabetes.
Trigger finger is also more common for people who had repetitive use injuries, as well as in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, Dupuytren disease, amyloidosis, hypothyroidism, mucopolysaccharide storage disorders, and congestive heart failure.

What should I do if I suffer from trigger finger?

A person who has this condition and suffer from hand pain and disability should definitely visit physician for diagnosis, which is made through patient’s history and examination. There are no specific laboratory tests which can be done to diagnose this condition. In some cases, the diagnosis is easier if a finger is swollen or there is a bump over the joint. As mentioned before, the finger also may be locked or stiff, and in most cases it is painful.

Treatment options

Standard trigger finger treatment options include:

• Splinting. Physician may put a splint on the hand for keeping the joint stable and avoid

moving.

• Pain management with medications. If symptoms of the trigger finger continue,

physician may prescribe medications for pain relief and reduction of inflammation. It is

usually non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen or Nimesulide.

• Corticosteroid injection. Local corticosteroid injection can be recommended for patients

with trigger finger together with local anesthetics or alone for reducing the inflammation

and pain. The effect of such injections can last up to 4 months.

• Surgery. If none of the treatment methods mentioned above helps, the trigger finger

release surgery should be considered.

Self-help options

One of the most important self-help options for patients with trigger finger is a relative rest. This means that a person having this problem should avoid his ordinary activities, especially if his or her work is related to repetitive movements or unaccustomed tasks. Another self-help option can be massage. Massaging affected hand area increases blood flow, which helps to lubricate the joint. Another important method is stretching your affected finger or fingers, because keeping the connective tissue as flexible as possible is beneficial in trigger finger treatment. Strengthening exercises are very important as well and can effectively reduce the symptoms.