Trigger Finger - a common cause of finger pain
Updated: Aug 25
What is Trigger Finger?
Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition in which one of your fingers gets stuck in a bent position. Your finger may bend or straighten with a snap just like the pull and release of a trigger. There may even be pain in the early stages of the disease.
Watch this video to see an example of trigger finger
Who is more likely to develop Trigger Finger?
People whose work or hobbies require repetitive gripping actions are at higher risk of developing trigger finger.
The condition is also more common in women and in anyone with diabetes.
How does Trigger Finger happen?
Firstly, we need to know a bit of the anatomy of the hand and fingers. In the fingers, there are tendons, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. In particular, lets focus on the tendons for a while.
Tendons are fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone. Each tendon is surrounded by a protective sheath. Trigger finger occurs when the affected finger's tendon sheath becomes irritated and inflamed. This interferes with the normal gliding motion of the tendon through the sheath.
Prolonged irritation of the tendon sheath can produce scarring, thickening and the formation of bumps (nodules) in the tendon that impede the tendon's motion even more. In severe cases, your finger may become locked in a bent position.
How do I know my painful finger is trigger finger?
Firstly, visit your friendly neighbourhood primary care doctor / GP / Family physician for a thorough examination of the painful finger, because not all painful fingers are trigger fingers!
Signs and symptoms of trigger finger may progress from mild to severe. Do NOT wait till your symptoms become severe before you see a doctor. But let's assume you think its trigger finger, so these are the common symptoms:
Finger stiffness, particularly in the morning
A popping or clicking sensation as you move your finger
Painful bump (nodule) in the palm at the base of the affected finger
Finger locking in a bent position, which suddenly pops straight
Finger locked in a bent position, which you are unable to straighten - this is the most severe stage
Trigger finger can affect any finger, including the thumb. More than one finger may be affected at a time, and both hands might be involved. Triggering is usually more pronounced in the morning, while firmly grasping an object or when straightening your finger.
In our clinic, we are able to use an ultrasound machine to scan the Tendon Sheath and check for inflammation and nodules in the Tendon Sheath.
Ok, So its diagnosed by my doctor to be Trigger Finger, what are my treatment options now?
Treatment of trigger finger varies depending on the severity.
In mild cases, a short course of anti-inflammatory tablets may be able to help with the condition. More importantly, in these cases, you have to know which are the repetitive motions / exercises that make your condition worse, and so, best to avoid those motions / exercises. Some stretching exercises can potentially alleviate the symptoms.
In moderate severity cases, you may benefit from a special type of injection into the tendon sheath itself to reduce the inflammation. In most cases, a single injection should be able to solve the inflammation. But in some cases, 2 injections may be needed.
Our Clinic is also able to use Ultrasound to guide the injection into the tendon sheath, for optimal effect.
Do watch this video to see how this can be done in clinic:
If you have severe symptoms or if other treatments don’t work, your doctor may suggest surgery, where the surgeon makes a small cut at the base of the finger and opens the sheath around the tendon.
So as you can see, the earlier you seek treatment, the less "invasive" procedures are needed.
If you have trigger finger, don't wait anymore, seek medical attention today!
What is Paddington Fast Care and how Fast Care can help you?
Not all finger pain is a cause for panic and medical treatment. However, if you suspect you have trigger finger, do let us know.
At Paddington Medical, we understand that having trigger finger is distressing hence we have created Paddington Fast Care, for you.
In the assessment of painful fingers, to speed up diagnosis and treatment, we are equipped with an advanced Ultrasound System to conduct immediate Ultrasound scans in clinic.
To speed up the diagnostic process, and only if necessary, we arrange expedited X-Rays or MRI scans for our patients to get same day or next day results, so that our doctors can review the results with you in Paddington Medical.
We are also able to do specialized injections into the finger to help with trigger fingers.
Paddington Medical works with a team of trusted Orthopaedic (Bone) Surgeons to provide integrated and comprehensive care for our patients. Paddington Fast Care can arrange for expedited care for you with this team of Orthopaedic Surgeons if needed.