AT BEL AIR CENTER FOR PLASTIC AND HAND
Stenosing tenosynovitis, more commonly known as trigger finger, is diagnosed when a finger or thumb gets stuck. This happens in the bent position, and then releases with a snap, like pulling a trigger. Severe trigger finger can even cause the fingers to stay locked in a bent position, and is often very painful. We offer several treatment options to minimize discomfort and maximize functionality.
Understanding Trigger Finger
Trigger finger is diagnosed when the tendon becomes inflamed. The tendons are responsible for connecting muscles to the fingers so the fingers can move. Normally, the tendons glide smoothly through a sheath of protective tissue called the synovium. When the tendon becomes inflamed, movement through the synovium is no longer an easy, smooth movement. Instead, the tendon pulls through the sheath with a snap or pop.
Although trigger finger can happen to anyone, it’s seen more commonly in women and in patients with diabetes. People who have hobbies that require repetitive finger grasping motions are also more susceptible. Trigger finger may occur on its own, or may develop in response to another health condition, like arthritis or due to a physical hand injury.
The earliest symptom of trigger finger is noticing soreness at the base of the thumb or finger. This can be present when the joint is either bent or straight. When bending the thumb or finger and trying to straighten it again, there is a catching sensation along with a painful click or pop. This can be worse after resting, and can improve with movement. In some cases, the finger can lock into either a bent or a straight position, and can only be moved by using the other hand.
Treatment for Trigger Finger
If the symptoms of trigger finger are mild or show up only once in a while, a conservative treatment approach is taken. Sometimes, a special splint is worn to keep the finger extended for a few weeks, giving the tendon a chance to heal. A splint also prevents sleeping with the fingers and thumb in a fist, which can worsen the condition.
Activity modification to rest the joint can also help ease pain. In addition, steroid injections can be very effective treatments for trigger fingers, in some cases eliminating the need for surgical release.
If a more conservative approach does not help, surgery may be recommended. This may be a simple needle release of the locked finger. This is called a percutaneous trigger finger release, and works best for the fingers rather than the thumb. If the locking doesn’t respond to any other treatments, the tendons can be released with surgery to restore a full range of motion.
Recovery and Results
The recovery time after surgery for trigger finger varies depending on the approach taken. For example, splinting may require several weeks for full healing of the joint. Even with surgery, patients can expect to be back to their regular routines within a few weeks. Bel Air Center for Hand Surgery helps men and women from Harford County and surrounding areas in Maryland and Pennsylvania improve their quality of life by minimizing painful symptoms and restoring function.