If you have trigger finger, you know the annoyance it causes. The condition, in which your finger or thumb catches when in a bent position, can be painful. According to MayoClinic.com, trigger finger begins with mild symptoms that include stiffness and clicking when you move your fingers. When it worsens, trigger finger can result in your finger catching and popping. In severe cases, the condition can lead to a finger or thumb locking in a bent position. Finding a remedy for trigger finger is desirable for those who suffer from it.
According to MayoClinic.com, a narrowing of the sheath surrounding the finger or thumb tendons causes trigger finger. It tends to occur more frequently in your dominant hand, and the condition often affects the thumb and the middle and ring fingers, which more often are used for gripping and other maneuvers. Trigger finger is common in individuals who use their fingers and thumbs for gripping on a constant basis. Trigger finger also occurs in women more than in men. MayoClinic.com also reports that individuals with diabetes are at greater risk of developing trigger finger.
Curing trigger finger involves repairing the lubricating solution between the tendon and its sheath, a protective sleeve that covers the tendon. The sheath is lined with a coating called tenosynovium. This substance lubricates the tendon, allowing it to move without hindrance inside the sheath. Inflammation of the sheath's lubricating fluid often occurs due to overuse, such as one might expect from repetitive motion. Inflammation left untreated can result in scarring and thickening of the tendon.
Rest and Drug Treatment
One way to address mild cases of trigger finger is simply to allow the affected finger or thumb to heal. In mild cases, according to MayoClinic.com, rest of four to six weeks can result in significant improvement. Long-term prevention often entails making changes in your routine. Consider new ways to do jobs that require less repetitive motion of the fingers and thumb. Along with rest, some doctors recommend a splint that keeps the finger extended for as long as six weeks. This aids in resting the joint and prevents involuntary bending of the finger during such activities as sleep. Doctors sometimes prescribe finger exercises, massage and heat treatments such as soaking the finger in warm water. All help you keep your finger mobile.
If mild treatment does not work, doctors sometimes recommend anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen that relieve inflammation and swelling in the tendon sheath of the affected finger. Steroids such as cortisone also can be used to reduce inflammation of the sheath and its lubricating fluid.
A less common alternative is surgery targeting the affected tendon. According to Dr. David L. Nelson, who treats trigger finger, about 50 percent of trigger finger cases result in surgery. The chance that surgery will be required increases when you wait until symptoms become serious before seeking a doctor's help. The surgery is often performed as an out-patient procedure that takes no more than 15 minutes to perform. A local anesthesia blocks the pain. The surgeon then cuts open the finger joint and pulls the skin apart to reveal the tendon, which features two pulleys. The doctor simply cuts the pulley that is affecting the tendon. Then the doctor applies sutures and allows the wound to heal. Most patients are able to use their finger within a day or two of the procedure. According to Dr. Nelson, infection and recurrence of triggering are potential complications. He places these risks at approximately 1 percent.