Trigger finger syndrome, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition in which the fingers or thumbs of the hand become stiff and difficult to move.
It is caused by swelling or irritation of the tendons, which connect the muscles to the bones in your fingers and thumbs.
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What Is Trigger Finger Syndrome?
Trigger finger syndrome (also known as “stenosing tenosynovitis”) is caused by inflammation of the tendon sheath in the hand—the tissue that connects muscles to bones.
When these sheaths become swollen or irritated, they can cause the affected finger (or thumb) to lock up with a snapping sensation. A trigger finger can occur in one or more fingers. The ring finger is often one of the fingers affected.
When it affects your thumb, it’s called a trigger thumb. The pain associated with trigger finger syndrome can range from mild to severe and usually worsens over time if not treated properly.
Developing trigger finger syndrome can be linked to specific activities or underlying medical conditions. Activities that involve repetitive motions, such as typing and working on a computer, can increase your risk of developing trigger finger syndrome.
What Causes Trigger Finger Syndrome?
The exact cause of trigger finger syndrome is unknown, but it is thought that it may be due to overuse or injury of the tendons in the hand.
Repetitive motion activities such as typing on a computer or playing an instrument can cause the tendons in the hands to become swollen and inflamed.
It is also common in people who have conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes, which can damage tendons in the hand as well.
Trigger finger symptoms range from mild to severe and consist:
- Stiff fingers, especially in the morning
- As the finger moves, there is a popping or clicking sound
- At the base of the affected finger, there may be tenderness or a lump in the palm
- A finger catching or locking bent position and then snapping straight
- Bent finger stuck in place
- A 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 worse in the morning.
Fortunately, trigger finger syndrome can usually be treated without surgery. Treatment options include:
To thoroughly and painlessly move the finger or thumb, treatment for trigger fingers aims to minimize or eliminate edema and catching/locking.
When the issue is identified and treated as soon as possible, it is easier to return the finger to what the patient perceives as usual or 100%.