Trigger finger is a painful condition where the thumb or fingers lock when bent.
The condition occurs when the tendons become inflamed. The tendons are the tough tissue bands connecting the bones and the muscles.
A lubricating membrane called the synovium surrounds the joint and makes it possible for the tendon to easily glide through the sheath. When the tendon becomes swollen and inflamed, it can snap or pop when the finger is bent.
Depending on the condition’s severity, treatment option can range from medications to trigger finger surgery.
What can cause trigger finger?
Trigger finger can be attributed to forceful use as well as repeated movement of the finger or thumb. Gout, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis can also cause the condition to develop. Grasping something (like a power tool) for a long period can also result to trigger finger.
Who can get trigger finger?
Musicians, farmer, and industrial workers are more susceptible to developing trigger finger since they often do repeated thumb and finger movements. The condition is also common in women than in men. Individuals who are 40 to 60 years old are also more susceptible.
What are the common symptoms?
In most cases, the first symptom that will manifest is soreness at the finger or thumb’s base. Painful snapping or clicking is also felt when straightening or bending the finger. The catching sensation can get worse when resting the affected finger and will often loosen up when moved.
How is the condition diagnosed?
A physical examination of the fingers and the hand would often suffice. In some cases, the finger can become swollen and a hump over the joint in the palm will manifest.
The affected finger can also get locked in a bent position and can become very painful and stiff. No lab tests and X-rays are needed to diagnose the condition.
How is trigger finger treated?
Oftentimes, patients will be asked to rest the affected thumb or finger. A splint may also be used to prevent joint movement. If symptoms will persist, medications (like naproxen or ibuprofen) may be prescribed to fight the inflammation.
Injecting steroid into the tendon sheath is another treatment option available. If the condition does not respond to conservative treatment options, trigger finger surgery will be recommended.
What’s the typical recovery time for trigger finger surgery?
While not true in all cases, the following is typical for most cases:
You will likely be able to use your hand a day after the surgery but numbness can be experienced for at least 8 to 24 hours. Dressing should be kept dry for at least 5 days. You are allowed to get your hands wet 7 days after the surgery.
It would be difficult to predict how quickly patients can return to activities as several factors (how active the patient is, the exact procedure performed, etc.) come into play.
However, in most cases, many patients can drive the day after the surgery and can type a day or two after. Others can already engage in sports like tennis after 1 to 3 weeks and can do manual labor after 3 to 4 weeks.
What do patients need to do while recovering from trigger finger surgery?
Expect the surgeon to give post-operative instructions that can include changing the bandage, exercising the affected finger, and cleaning the surgery wound.
Patients must follow instructions given to ensure infections and complications are kept at bay. Adherence to the instructions given can also help warrant a speedier recovery.
While it can vary from one patient to the other, recovery can often take several weeks. Recovery may take longer however, if finger contractures develop. Typically, most patients fully recover after two to three months although some may need at least six.