Trigger Fingers: How to Treat Them

by drcase on September 9, 2011

A trigger finger, officially known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is when one of your fingers or thumb catches in a bent position.  The bent finger can straighten with a snap, like a trigger being released, hence the name trigger finger.  A severe trigger finger can become painfully locked in the bent position without being able to be straightened.

A trigger finger is caused by a narrowing of the sheath that surrounds the muscle tendon in the affected finger.  Tendons are the structures that attach muscles to bones, and they are surrounded by a protective sheath.  The sheath contains a fluid that lubricates the tendon and allows it to glide smoothly within the sheath as you move your finger.  If the tendon or sheath becomes inflamed from repetitive injury or overuse or arthritic conditions, the space within the tendon sheath can become narrow.  This causes the tendon to not glide easily through the sheath, making the finger catch in the bent position.  With each catch, the tendon can become inflamed, making the problem worse.

People who work or have hobbies that require repetitive gripping actions are more susceptible to getting a trigger finger. Trigger fingers are also more common in women and in anyone with diabetes and inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Medical treatment of trigger finger ranges from rest to surgery, depending on the severity of the condition.  Resting the affected finger and taking anti-inflammatory medication may help to relieve the inflammation around the tendon and let it relax.  Medical doctors may also elect to perform a corticosteroid injection to the tendon to try to reduce inflammation as well.  If that fails, surgery may be suggested to cut the sheath around the tendon and release the pressure.

Conservative or chiropractic treatment of a trigger finger can also be very effective.  In our office, I have found that chiropractic manipulation of the hand and wrist helps to restore mobility to the affected finger and relaxes the muscles and tendons in the hand.  Also, cold laser therapy does a good job of reducing inflammation around the affected tendon and sheath enabling the tendon to move better through the sheath.  Stretches and exercises can also help to restore normal finger mobility and prevent future episodes.

If you have a trigger finger or want more information, please feel free to contact our office.

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