Trigger finger, as the name suggests, is a common condition that can affect a single or multiple fingers at once and can occur at different times and locations. The term “trigger finger” relates to the triggering or snapping sensation a person describes who’s been affected by the condition.
Also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, this condition occurs when the tendon in the finger becomes irritated, inflamed, or scarred, which results in the thickening of the tendon. Trigger finger is normally identified when the affected person attempts to close their fist and grip an object or while opening the fist. The fingers are naturally meant to open and close smoothly, but with trigger finger, the movements are accompanied by pain and clicking sounds. The index finger and the thumb are the most frequently affected with the condition.
The fingers contain tendons that connect the muscles in the forearms to the bones in the finger, allowing the fingers to move. These tendons are surrounded by the tenosynovium, a fluid-filled sheath. The role of the tenosynovium is to release a lubricating fluid which in turn makes the movements of the tendons smooth within the tendon sheath as the fingers move. A swollen tendon due to trigger finger will have difficulty moving within the tendon sheath, causing the characteristic triggering or snapping of the fingers. In more severe cases, the fingers can get locked in a bent position.
The treatment for trigger finger symptoms can be as simple as getting plenty of rest, receiving massages, and following appropriate finger exercises according to the severity of the condition. In some occasions, the affected individuals may have to wear a finger splint in order for the finger joints to rest well and be able to return to its normal functioning. If other treatment options are unable to alleviate the condition, such as a severe case, surgery may be an option.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez