Trigger Finger Causes

Trigger finger refers to a painful condition in which your finger becomes locked when you try to bend or straighten it. Trigger finger usually affects your thumb and ring finger. You may develop this condition due to a number of reasons, and it is important to understand those trigger finger causes to be able to select the most appropriate treatment option.

What Are Causes of Trigger Finger?

There are small bones in your fingers. Then, there are tendons that connect those small bones to muscles. When you contract your muscles, tendons pull on your bones to make your fingers move. There are long tendons, which originate from your wrist and go to the bones and muscles in your hands, called flexor tendons. These tendons move through a flexor sheath, which is more like a tunnel. If for any reason the tunnel becomes narrower, it becomes difficult for the tendon to move easily. This is what leads to trigger finger.

Narrowing of the flexor sheath is among the most common trigger finger causes. Due to insufficient space, the tendon cannot slide through the sheath and becomes irritated. This often leads to swelling and you find it extremely painful to move your finger. A bump may also appear due to severe inflammation. This further restricts movement and makes it difficult for you to get your finger out of a bent position.

Other causes include:

  • You may develop trigger finger if you have diabetes, a condition that makes your blood sugar level go up.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and can lead to stiffness and pain in your joints, including fingers.
  • Gout can be the underlying cause of developing trigger finger. With this condition, it becomes difficult to move your joints because sodium urate crystals develop in those joints.
  • An excessive buildup of an abnormal protein called amyloid in the liver or other organs leads to a condition called amyloidosis, which may as well contribute to the development of trigger finger.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome, underactive thyroid, and Dupuytren's contracture are some other common trigger finger causes.Some people develop this condition due to De Quervain's disease, which affects the tendons in your thumb and causes severe pain in the wrist.

Who Is Most at Risk for Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger is more common in women than in men. Many factors increase your risk of developing this condition. You are more likely to develop this condition if you are between 40 and 60 years of age, and have hypothyroidism. You are at great risk of experiencing trigger finger if you have tuberculosis or have a job where you have to perform repetitive activities – it is quite common in farmers, musicians, and industrial workers due to the nature of their work.

What Are the Symptoms of Trigger Fingers?

Now that you know a bit about trigger finger causes, you may also want to know how to tell if you have developed this condition. You will experience certain symptoms that may range from mild to severe. Finger stiffness, especially in the morning, is probably the most common trigger finger symptom. You will also notice a clicking or popping sensation when you move your finger. Moreover, there may be a bump in the palm with tenderness at the base of your affected finger. Sometimes, your finger will be locked in a bent position, and you will be unable to straighten it again.

How Can Trigger Finger Be Treated?

Knowledge about trigger finger causes will help you select the best approach to find some relief. Here are some treatment options for you to consider.

1. Conservative Therapies

  • Rest: You have to take plenty of rest and take a break from an activity that may have caused the condition in the first place. In most cases, you will notice considerably improvement simply by resting your hand and letting inflammation to settle. Keep in mind that you may have to take 3-4 weeks rest to notice improvement.
  • Ice or heat: Consider applying an icepack on your affected finger to alleviate pain and swelling. If that does not work, try warm-water soaks to relieve stiffness.
  • Wear a splint: You may consider wearing a splint at night to keep your hand straight while sleeping. This helps keep your finger in an extended position – you may have to wear it up to six weeks for results.
  • Stretching exercises: Talk to your doctor and ask about some effective stretching exercises. Stretching your fingers the right way will help restore flexibility and reduce pain and swelling as well.

2. Medical and Surgical Release

When conservative treatment approaches do not work, you will have to talk to your doctor for a better treatment option.

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: Your doctor may give you ibuprofen or naproxen to help relieve pain.
  • Steroid injection: Taking a steroid injection into the tendon sheath may help reduce inflammation and pain. These injections contain a steroid medication that helps the tendon to glide freely again. The treatment option works if you are not a diabetic.
  • Percutaneous release: The procedure involves numbing your palm and then inserting a needle into the tissue around the affected tendon to break apart the constriction. This makes it possible for the tendon to move smoothly. Your doctor may perform this procedure under ultrasound control.
  • Surgery: Your doctor will recommend surgery when other options do not work. The procedure involves making a small incision at the base of your affected finger and using micro instruments to open the constriction.
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