What is Trigger Finger?
Trigger finger is the common term for the condition “stenosing flexor tenosynovitis.” People who have trigger finger will report that their finger is catching, locking, sticking or snapping in a bent (flexed) position. Sometimes, people cannot straighten the finger without pushing on it. Pain can develop in the finger and sometimes in the palm of the hand, and there may be a nodule (bump) present over the finger or palm.
What Causes Trigger Finger?
The tendons of the hand act like cables in a pulley system and move your fingers. The tendons are surrounded by a sheath (a tunnel of tissues) that normally helps them glide smoothly and stay in place. Inflammation of the sheath or the tendon narrows the available space, and the tendon can’t glide easily through the space to allow the finger to extend.
Women are more likely to get trigger finger than men, and the chance of getting it increases after age 40. The cause is not fully understood; however, some people attribute it to overuse of the hand or repetitive movements of the hand. Inflammatory illnesses and diabetes can also make people more likely to develop trigger finger.
When to Seek Evaluation
If you are experiencing stiffness or sticking in one or more finger joints, you should make an appointment to see your clinician. If you have significant pain, redness, swelling, or fever, you should call right away and be evaluated, as these could be signs of an infection or another medical condition.
How is Trigger Finger Diagnosed?
A diagnosis of trigger finger can be made after your clinician reviews your symptoms and performs a physical exam. Your clinician will want to observe how smoothly and easily you can open and close your fingers, if and where you are experiencing pain as you move, and will look for any signs of your finger locking. If you have a nodule on your hand, your clinician will also evaluate whether it moves as you flex your fingers which would indicate trigger finger. X-rays are not routinely recommended when your medical history and the physical examination are consistent with the condition.
How is Trigger Finger Treated?