TRIGGER FINGER – QUESTION: A 40 year old accountant used secateurs over the weekend, and noticed his finger began to click when he tried to bend and straighten his fingers. Sometimes it locks in his palm.
What is it?
The flexor tendons of the fingers and thumb are held in place by a series of pulleys. These pulleys increase efficiency of the tendon and prevent it from ‘bowstringing’ when the finger bends. Sometimes excessive grip or repetitive activities can result in a nodule developing, which gets caught when the finger is bent. If the inflammation continues, the tendon can get stuck in the bent position, requiring the other hand to manually straighten the finger. This is known as ‘trigger finger’ – it can be tender to touch and swollen in the palm.
Risk Factors of Trigger Finger
The following factors may increase the risk of developing trigger finger:
• Constant gripping – Those who work in jobs or enjoy activities that involve repeated gripping motions may be have a higher risk of developing trigger finger
• Gender – Trigger finger is more common in women
• Other conditions – those with diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop trigger finger
Splinting options are available to help stop the tendon from being aggravated when the finger moves. Some people with trigger finger need to wear the splint at night, others during the day as well. Your therapist can advise you which splint will be most appropriate for you, as well as educate you on pain and self-management strategies. It is important to maintain flexibility of the digits without aggravating the condition.
Cortisone injections can be used in conjunction with splinting to help reduce pain and inflammation.
Surgical review may be required if your trigger finger fails to respond to these conservative approaches.