All of the grilling, serving, and cleanup is finally complete; now the time has come to sit back, relax, and enjoy some 4th of July fireworks with your family and friends but it happens again. You go to reach for a giant sparkler only to have your finger suddenly lock up! You are not alone, especially if you are 40 to 60 years old, perform repetitive hand/finger motions during work and/or home, have diabetes, or various forms of arthritis.
With triggering, when you attempt to straighten your finger, it stays locked in place. Sometimes it may be necessary to use your other hand to straighten the finger out to “pop” it back into place. While a trigger finger is not usually caused by any specific injury, the condition can arise more readily with heavy use of the digit.
The disorder occurs when there is thickening and inflammation of the tendon sheath of the finger. This thickening inhibits the tendon from moving smoothly through the sheath, thus restricting movement. In medical terms, the condition is referred to as stenosing tenosynovitis (stuh-NO-sing teen-O-sin-O-VY-tis)
- Stenosing meaning narrowing
- Tenosynovitis meaning inflammation of the tendon
A couple of ways you can treat your trigger finger at home:
- One treatment you can try is simply to rest the affected digit. That means to limit, as much as possible, any activity that involves the finger. This will allow the tendon time to heal and the inflammation to subside.
- Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory such as Aleve or Motrin.
Other options involve seeing your orthopedic physician who may:
- Supply a splint to immobilize the finger allowing the tendon to heal by restricting motion to the digit.
- Administer a corticosteroid injection to the affected digit: This provides a one/two punch by supplying a targeted dose of anesthetic to alleviate pain followed by a steroid which reduces the inflammation.
- When all conservative methods fail, a surgical release (tenosynovectomy) would be a final option. During this surgery, a small incision is made at the base of the finger and the tendon is widened and released. Surgery normally takes approximately 30 minutes and you should regain movement of the finger immediately post-surgery. Full recovery takes around 2 to 3 weeks.
Do not allow a trigger finger to limit the activities you enjoy. There is no need to endure the pain and discomfort of tenosynovitis. If your conservative course has failed to provide relief, contact your orthopedist or our office to get your hands back in motion again!