What is trigger finger?
Trigger finger is a condition that affects the fingers, making them get stuck or “catch” when you try to bend or straighten them. It can happen to any finger, but it’s more common in the thumb, ring finger, and middle finger.
A simple explanation
Inside your fingers, there are tendons that help them move smoothly. These tendons slide through a little tunnel called a sheath. When you have trigger finger, the sheath becomes irritated and swollen. This causes the tendon to get stuck, and you can’t straighten your finger easily.
Imagine a rope (tendon) passing through a tight tunnel (sheath). If the tunnel gets inflamed and narrow, the rope can’t move smoothly, and your finger stays bent.
Trigger finger can make it difficult and sometimes painful to move the affected finger, and it may also make a clicking or snapping sound when you try to move it.
This condition can be caused by repetitive hand movements, certain medical conditions, or sometimes the cause is unknown. Treatment may include medications, therapy, or in some cases, surgery to release the irritated sheath and free the tendon.
Trigger finger treatment options
A Certified Hand Therapist can help educate you on specific exercises to improve flexibility, improve motion, and decrease pain as well as activity modifications. Custom splinting can be made in the clinic that will allow the inflamed structures to rest however not completely limit your mobility so you still have functional use of the hand. Splinting may be at night, during the day, or both. The therapist may elect to perform some modalities such as heat and/or cold therapy, as well as therapeutic ultrasound. Manual techniques will be implemented to decrease the inflammation, muscle tightness, and pain. Mobility exercises can improve tendon gliding and improve motion. There are many treatment options that you can explore with the Certified Hand Therapist and each treatment approach is tailored to your needs. There are some instances that surgery is unavoidable, however many times therapy can help prevent surgery!