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The five things you need to know about trigger finger

Information provided on the blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or offer treatment plans.

Healthy fingers are happy fingers, so take a few moments to learn a little more about trigger finger.

1. It is caused by a swollen tendon in your hand.

A tendon connects muscle to bone.  It’s a cable-like structure that pulls/bends a bone when the muscle contracts and pulls on the tendon.  So they’re all interconnected.

In the case of trigger finger, the flexor tendon to the finger becomes swollen, which causes the swollen tendon to catch on a portion of the overlying tendon sheath when the muscle contracts.

A lot of people say they hear a click and feel a triggering sensation.  The swollen tendon getting caught on the overlying pulley causes those sensations.

2. The symptoms are worse in the morning

Just what I’m sure everyone wanted to read (because mornings are already difficult enough).  Yes, it’s true.  The clicking is worse in the morning when you initially start moving your fingers.

In the early stages of trigger finger, you can just shake your hands and the clicking should go away.

Over time, the triggering can become more frequent and more painful.  If you have a severe case, your fingers may freeze in a bent position, and you’ll have to pry them loose–a very painful experience.

Trust me, you don’t want to have a “locked” trigger finger.

3. Over the counter anti inflammatory medicine can help decrease the symptoms

Fortunately, I have some good news.  You can try ibuprofen or naproxen (consult with your doctor first).  That may work, but if it doesn’t you’ll have other options.

4. Most cases can successfully be treated with an injection of anti inflammatory medicine

The injection will go right along side of the swollen tendon.  This injection cures the problem most of the time, and it’s just one injection!

5. Not to worry, in severe cases that don’t respond to oral medicines or injections; surgery is over 90% successful.

If you need surgery, it can be done in a doctor’s office or in an outpatient center under a local anesthetic.

Just the finger being treated is numbed, so there’s no need to be put to sleep or have a breathing tube.

Sounds easy, right?  It is.

The whole procedure takes less than 15 minutes and has over a 90% success rate.

(image via)

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Brian Bear, MD

Dr. Bear is a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in upper extremity for OrthoIllinois. He's also a father and husband, and in his spare time, he enjoys being active and fishing.


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