Trigger Finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis or flexor tendonitis, is a condition where one of the fingers or thumb of the hand is caught in a bent position. The affected digit may straighten with a quick snap, similar to pulling and releasing the trigger on a gun, hence the name trigger finger.
Commonly reported symptoms associated with trigger finger include the following:-
Trigger finger is caused by inflammation of the tenosynovium. The tenosynovium is the substance that lines the protective sheath around the tendon in the finger. This substance enables the tendon to glide smoothly within the sheath when the finger is bent or straightened. When inflammation is present, the tendon is unable to glide smoothly within its sheath causing "catching" of the finger in a bent position and then suddenly releasing the finger straight. Causes of trigger finger can include the following:
Repetitive Motion: Individuals who perform heavy, repetitive hand and wrist movements with prolonged gripping at work or play are believed to be at high risk for developing trigger finger.
Medical Conditions: Conditions associated with developing trigger finger include hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and certain infections such as TB.
Gender: Trigger finger is more common in females than males.
Hand and wrist conditions should be evaluated by an orthopedic hand surgeon for proper diagnosis and treatment. Trigger finger is diagnosed based on the medical history and physical examination and without any special testing required.
Your surgeon will recommend conservative treatment options to treat the trigger finger symptoms. Treatment options will vary depending on the severity of the condition.
Conservative treatment options may include the following:
If conservative treatment options fail to resolve the condition and symptoms persist for 6 months or more and your quality of life is adversely affected, your surgeon may recommend you undergo a percutaneous trigger finger release surgical procedure to release the tendon. This surgery is usually performed in an operating room under local or regional anesthesia on an outpatient basis as day surgery. Your surgeon makes one small incision, about inch long, to the affected finger area. The surgeon then releases the tight portion of the flexor tendon sheath. The incision is then closed with a couple sutures and covered with a sterile dressing.
After surgery, your surgeon will give you guidelines to follow. Common postoperative guidelines include:
As with any major surgery there are potential risks involved. The decision to proceed with the surgery is made because the advantages of surgery outweigh the potential disadvantages. It is important that you are informed of these risks before the surgery takes place.
Complications can be medical (general) or specific to hand surgery. Medical complications include those of the anesthetic and your general wellbeing. Almost any medical condition can occur so this list is not complete.
The majority of patients suffer no complications following trigger finger surgery; however, complications can occur and include:
Risk factors that can negatively affect adequate healing after surgery include:
Click on the topics below to find out more from the orthopaedic connection website of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.