Conditions & Treatments

Trigger Finger

What is

Trigger Finger?

Stenosing tenosynovitis, commonly known as trigger finger or trigger thumb, involves the pulleys and tendons in the hand that bend the fingers.

The tendons work like long ropes connecting the muscles of the forearm with the bones of the fingers and thumb. In the finger, the pulleys are a series of rings that form a tunnel through which the tendons must glide, much like the guides on a fishing rod through which the line (or tendon) must pass. These pulleys hold the tendons close against the bone. The tendons and the tunnel have a slick lining that allows easy gliding of the tendon through the pulleys.

Trigger finger or trigger thumb occurs when the pulley at the base of the finger becomes too thick and constricting around the tendon, making it hard for the tendon to move freely through the pulley. Sometimes the tendon develops a nodule (knot) or swelling of its lining.

Because of the increased resistance to the gliding of the tendon through the pulley, one may feel pain, popping, or a catching feeling in the finger or thumb. When the tendon catches, it produces irritation and more swelling. This causes a vicious cycle of triggering, irritation, and swelling. Sometimes the finger becomes stuck or locked, and is hard to straighten or bend.

Causes of

Stenosing Tenosynovitis

What causes trigger finger is not always clear. Some trigger fingers are associated with medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and diabetes. Local trauma to the palm or base of the finger may be a factor on occasion, but in most cases there is not a clear cause.

Signs &

Symptoms

Trigger finger or trigger thumb may start with discomfort felt at the base of the finger or thumb, where they join the palm. This area is often tender to local pressure. A nodule may sometimes be found in this area.

When the finger begins to trigger or lock, the patient may think the problem is at the middle knuckle of the finger or the tip knuckle of the thumb, since the tendon that is sticking is the one that moves these joints.

Surgery &

Other Treatments

The goal of treatment in trigger finger or trigger thumb is to eliminate the catching or locking and allow full movement of the finger or thumb without discomfort. Swelling around the flexor tendon and tendon sheath must be reduced to allow smooth gliding of the tendon.

Treatment for this condition initially calls for rest, but a splint can be placed around the finger or thumb if the need arises. The recovery time depends on how severe the trigger finger is, but can take up to six weeks.

Taking an oral anti-inflammatory medication may help as well. Treatment may also include changing activities to reduce swelling. An injection of steroid into the area around the tendon and pulley is often effective in relieving the trigger finger/thumb.

If non-surgical forms of treatment do not relieve the symptoms, surgery may be recommended. This surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure, usually with simple local anesthesia. The goal of surgery is to open the pulley at the base of the finger so that the tendon can glide more freely.

Active motion of the finger generally begins immediately after surgery. Normal use of the hand can usually be resumed once comfort permits. Some patients may feel tenderness, discomfort, and swelling around the area of their surgery longer than others. Occasionally, hand therapy is required after surgery to regain better use.

If you are experiencing symptoms of trigger finger, Dr. Arora can evaluate your condition to diagnose the condition. Make an appointment to see him in Howell, West Bloomfield, Macomb Township, or St. Clair Shores.

Get on the List

Subscribe

Patient

Stories

Read All

Dr. Aroras office from my first call to schedule my appointment was friendly. Walking in the first day, I felt like I was in a nice atmosphere. Dr. Arora was EXCELLENT in taking great care of my hand injury. He was gentle and very understanding to the concerns I had about my hand. His expertise was admirable and I would recommend anyone with an injury to their hand to his office to be under his care. Because of him, I have healed faster than expected and will make an 100% recovery! Thank you Dr.

Jackie S.

I first thought I was going to have to have painful injections or surgery, but Dr. Arora suggested physical therapy may do the trick. I was doubtful, but I agreed to do it. Now, my pain is gone, and with the help of an ergonomic keyboard at work to keep my hands in the correct position, I am virtually pain free. The therapy strengthened my wrists and shoulders, and built more flexibility into my wrists.

Jerry T.

My experience with this doctor was positive from the outset. Dr. Arora was kind and spent a great deal of time with me. Staff was friendly. The office was nice and bright.

Ariel G.

Very friendly and helpful Great staff!!! Doctor Arora was very professional and did great work. I was very happy with everything!

L B.