Many individuals who frequently use their hands may have heard of the term “trigger finger” (also known as stenosing tenosynovitis). Still, surprisingly, many don’t fully understand what it is or how it happens.
This painful condition of the tendons in your hand cause your pointer finger and thumb to lock or catch when you bend your finger. It can occur in other fingers as well. People typically affected are those with diabetes and individuals with arthritis.
How Trigger Finger Starts
If the joints in your finger or fingers are making popping sounds, or if you are feeling a clicking sensation when you bend your fingers, those are warning signs. You can be doing anything with you hand when suddenly your pointer finger and/or thumb locks up on you. This can also happen to your ring finger and your thumb.
Repetitive motions are the leading cause of trigger finger. This explains why it affect different joints, depending on which are being used most often. The stiffness in your finger joint may improve on its own, but if treatment is not sought out immediately, your finger runs the possibility of being permanently bent.
When it Happens
Like most arthritis-related issues, trigger finger seems to occur most often in the morning. There is no scientific explanation for it. However, trigger finger can happen at any time throughout the day. It is just less common outside of early morning hours.
The best way to determine if you are suffering from this condition is to write down the times of day that the pain and stiffness are occurring. This way, your doctor can see when the flare-ups happen and better choose an ideal treatment option.
If You Are Not Sure You Have Trigger Finger
Trigger finger can lead to more serious issues. If you think you are suffering from the condition, you will want to contact your physician to discuss your concerns. He or she will be able to offer suggestions on treatment options or even suggest surgery if necessary. If you have notes on when the pain and stiffness are occurring, bring that too.
Another option is to try taking an anti-inflammatory in the morning to see if it helps to reduce swelling and restore proper joint function. If the idea of over-the-counter pain medications doesn’t sound appealing, there are other natural alternatives to reduce swelling, such as the spice Turmeric. Turmeric can be added to tea and many food items. The natural properties of the spice have shown tremendous healing properties and have earned the spice its rank as a “superfood”.
If you suffer from trigger finger there are several options for treatment. These include:
- Medications – Anti-inflammatory medicines are prescribed to reduce inflammation
- Splinting – Strapping the affected finger to a splint to aid in pain relief and recovery
- Steroid Injections – Liquid anti-inflammatory that is injected by a syringe into the affected area to reduce inflammation
- Surgery – Surgically remove the swollen sheath to free the affected tendon. A simple procedure with a very high success rate. Expect to set aside 2-4 weeks to recover fully.
A simple home remedy (if seeing a physician is not possible) is to apply heat or ice to the affected area. Applying ice will reduce swelling and allow movement to return to the joints. About roughly 30% of all individuals suffering from this condition recover on their own without medical intervention.
Can Trigger Finger Affect Children?
Young children and infants can be affected by trigger finger as well, usually between the ages of one to four years of age. It affects roughly 3 out of 1,000 children who are one year old but is often missed at physician well-child checks. Look for an inability to straighten the thumb.
If you see finger problems in your child, be sure to schedule an appointment with your child’s physician to decide on a proper treatment option. Like adults, only about 30% of children will recover on their own without any sort of medical intervention.
Surgery may be the option of choice to correct the issue. Some physicians will require a simple check-up two weeks after the surgery, but some children do not even require a follow-up after the procedure.