Trigger finger: causes, symptoms, and non-surgical treatment options

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Trigger finger: causes, symptoms, and non-surgical treatment options
Trigger finger: causes, symptoms, and non-surgical treatment options

Our hands are intricate tools that allow us to perform a myriad of daily tasks with precision. But when one of our fingers gets stuck in a bent position and then suddenly pops straight, it can be alarming. This condition, known as "trigger finger," is more common than you might think. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and non-surgical treatment options for trigger finger.

Understanding trigger finger:

Trigger finger, medically known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that affects the tendons in the hand, making it difficult to straighten one or more fingers. The tendons normally glide smoothly through a sheath that keeps them in place, but in the case of trigger finger, inflammation or thickening of this sheath restricts the tendon's movement, leading to the characteristic snapping or popping sensation.

Causes of trigger finger:

Several factors can contribute to the development of trigger finger:

  1. Repetitive movements: Engaging in repetitive hand and finger movements, especially in activities that require gripping, can increase the risk.

  2. Health conditions: Conditions like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis are associated with a higher likelihood of developing trigger finger.

  3. Age and gender: It is more common in women and in individuals between the ages of 40 and 60.

Symptoms of trigger finger:

The symptoms of trigger finger can range from mild to severe and often progress over time:

  1. Finger stiffness: Affected fingers may feel stiff and be difficult to straighten.

  2. Popping sensation: The hallmark symptom is a popping or snapping sensation when attempting to straighten the finger.

  3. Tenderness at the base of the finger: There may be tenderness or a small lump at the base of the affected finger.

  4. Finger locking: In some cases, the finger may become temporarily locked in a bent position and require manual manipulation to straighten.

Non-surgical treatment options:

The good news is that many cases of trigger fingers can be effectively managed without surgery. Here are some non-surgical treatment options:

  1. Rest and activity modification: Reducing or modifying activities that exacerbate the condition can provide relief.

  2. Splinting: Wearing a splint to keep the affected finger in an extended position can help rest the tendon.

  3. Anti-inflammatory medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may reduce pain and inflammation.

  4. Corticosteroid injections: In some cases, a corticosteroid injection into the affected area can alleviate inflammation and symptoms.

  5. Hand exercises: Gentle exercises prescribed by a therapist can improve finger flexibility.

  6. Warm compresses: Applying warm compresses may ease discomfort and improve blood flow. 

Trigger finger can be a challenging condition, but with early intervention and appropriate treatment, many individuals can find relief from their symptoms and restore their hand function. If you suspect you have a trigger finger or are experiencing its symptoms, consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized non-surgical treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

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