To understand Trigger Finger, one must understand a bit about the anatomy of fingers.
Tendons control mobility of the fingers and are also the tissues that attach muscle to bones of the fingers. The long tendons in the hand, called the flexor tendons, control the movement of the fingers and thumb. The flexor tendons pass through something called the tendon sheath which holds the tendons in place within the finger.
If the flexor tendon becomes irritated, it may become inflamed, or the tendon sheath may start to narrow. This makes it more difficult for the tendon to move freely within the finger.
Trigger Finger occurs when this tightening of the tendon sheath causes the tendon to get caught for a moment in one part of the sheath. Then, once it is able to move through, the finger shoots straight out. Smooth straightening of the finger is close to impossible.
Trigger finger is most common among middle-aged women, though it can affects both genders and all age groups. It can also be the result of another pre-existing health problem such as diabetes and thyroid disorder.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Trigger Finger can be diagnosed through a simple physical examination of the hand. Some signs of trigger finger include:
In severe cases of Trigger Finger, the finger cannot be straightened at all and may feel as though it is dislocated. Some patients’ fingers are permanently bent at the knuckle.
Trigger Finger may be treated through a variety of non-surgical methods. A physician, such as Dr. Leah Urbanosky of Hinsdale Orthopaedics, may recommend anti-inflammatory medication or a splint to keep the finger in a neutral position. Corticosteroid steroids may be injected into the tendon sheath to relieve pain, though this temporary relief may not always work for those with chronic symptoms.
Dr. Urbanosky may also recommend surgery based on the individual patient’s condition. Surgery is suggested in order to prevent permanent pain and stiffness. The surgery aims to widen the tendon sheath so it is easier for the tendon to move through it. The operation is done under local anesthesia and is done through a small incision in the palm. The sheath is cut with the intention of loosening it, so when it heals the tendon is able to once again slide freely.
Soreness and swelling is common after surgery, but most patients see immediate improvement. Since the surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, it does not require any hospital stay. Hand therapy can help patients who are unusually stiff post-surgery.
If you think that you may be experiencing Trigger Finger, contact Dr. Leah Urbanosky for a consultation: (815) 462-3474. Proper diagnosis is critical to successful surgery.
Cysts & Tumors
De Quervain's Tenosynovitis
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Traumatic Hand Injuries
Joint Replacement of the Hand
Mallet Finger (Baseball Finger)
Swan Neck Deformity
UCL Tear of the Thumb
Osteoarthritis of the Thumb