Trigger finger is an uncomfortable condition that causes one of your fingers (or thumb) to get stuck in a bent position and may cause a snapping or popping sensation when you move it.
Some people have risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing trigger finger. Our orthopedic specialists at Nevada Orthopedic & Spine Center in Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada, offer advanced treatment and the following best practices to help you reduce your risk for trigger finger.
Trigger finger symptoms
You can experience the initial symptoms of trigger finger without an injury to your hand or fingers. Common symptoms of trigger finger include:
- Popping or locking of finger when you try to move it or straighten it
- Pain when bending or straightening your finger
- Pain or tenderness at the base of your finger on the palm side of your hand
Trigger finger symptoms tend to increase after periods of inactivity, so they’re common upon waking up in the morning. In severe cases, the finger becomes stuck in a bent position.
Trigger finger causes and risk factors
Flexor tendons in the fingers are fibrous cords that connect the finger bones with the forearm muscles and help bend your fingers. These tendons pass through a sheath or tunnel in the palm and fingers, and along the sheath are bands of tissue called “pulleys” that keep the flexor tendons positioned next to the bones of your fingers.
As you move your fingers, the tendons pass through the pulleys. The pulley located at the base of the finger closest to your palm is called the A1 pulley. Trigger finger occurs when the tendon’s sheath becomes inflamed, narrowing the space surrounding the tendon and interfering with the normal gliding motion of the tendon through the sheath.
Factors that increase your risk of developing trigger finger include:
1. Repetitive gripping
If your work or hobbies involve repetitive gripping actions, you’re more likely to develop a trigger finger. People who spend a lot of time pruning plants, using hand power tools, and biking may find themselves dealing with trigger finger due to the repetitive motion of gripping or holding on to the tool or squeezing the bicycle handles.
2. Carpal tunnel syndrome surgery
Trigger finger and carpal tunnel syndrome commonly occur together, but their relationship is unclear. For example, one study shows that trigger finger develops in 22% of patients after carpal tunnel syndrome release surgery.
The carpal tunnel release surgery may cause the flexor tendons in the wrist to displace, which changes the angle of the flexor tendon against the A1 pulley in the finger, creating a greater force between the flexor tendons and the pulley — leading to trigger finger.
3. Health conditions
Some underlying health issues can increase your risk of developing trigger finger, including rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term condition where your immune system mistakenly attacks the lining surrounding your joints, causing pain and stiffness. This condition often affects the hands, and the resulting inflammation can weaken and damage the tendons, making rheumatoid arthritis a risk factor for developing trigger finger.
High blood sugar, a hallmark of diabetes, damages the nerves that send signals from your hands, causing burning or aching pain. If you have diabetes, you’re up to 10% more likely to develop trigger finger, although the risk correlates with how long you’ve lived with diabetes and not your blood sugar levels.
Common treatments for trigger finger
When you visit Nevada Orthopedic & Spine Center for trigger finger, the initial treatment is usually nonsurgical. Our compassionate team first recommends conservative treatments, including:
- Resting your hand
- Avoiding activities that make it worse
- Splinting the finger or thumb while you sleep
- Stretching exercises
- Over-the-counter medications
- Steroid injections
If the nonsurgical treatments do not relieve your symptoms, or your finger is locked in a bent position, we may recommend surgery to release the tendon and restore movement.
If you suspect you have trigger finger, call our office nearest you or schedule an appointment online for diagnosis and treatment.