If you’re finding it difficult or painful to bend or straighten one of your fingers, you may be dealing with a condition known as trigger finger. While the condition can affect any finger on your hand, it most commonly plagues your pointer finger. Left untreated, you may find that you are unable to fully straighten your finger or bend it past a certain point, which can make daily tasks quite difficult. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at how physical therapy can help restore or prevent progression of a trigger finger injury.
Causes And Symptoms Of Trigger Finger
Contrary to the name of the condition, trigger finger isn’t just caused by pulling the trigger of a gun numerous times over the course of your life. Its name derives from the fact that the action of pulling a trigger would be extremely difficult from someone battling the condition. Medically speaking, the condition develops when the tendon sheath in the finger becomes inflamed. This inflammation interferes with the smooth gliding motion of the tendon through the sheath, resulting in difficulty completing the action or a catching sensation as you try to bend the finger past a certain point.
Trigger finger commonly develops in individuals who perform repetitive gripping motions at their job or in their leisure. It also tends to be more common in women, diabetics and patients who have recently undergone surgery to address carpal tunnel syndrome.
We touched on some of the symptoms above, but we’ll give a more complete list here. Symptoms of trigger finger include:
- Difficulty bending the affected finger
- Difficult straightening the affected finger
- Pain when attempting to bend the affected finger
- A clicking or popping sensation when bending the finger
- Finger stiffness
- A catching sensation when bending the affected finger
Treating Trigger Finger With Physical Therapy
Fortunately, physical therapy tends to be a very effective treatment for patients suffering from trigger finger, and you shouldn’t wait to dive into a program if you are beginning to notice symptoms. Trigger finger only tends to get worse if the problem is ignored, and eventually your finger will get to the point where no matter how much you treat it, you won’t be able to restore normal movement in your finger, so talk to a PT if you’re beginning to notice symptoms.
Your physical therapy program will be tailored to your individual strengths and deficits, but physical therapy exercises for trigger finger tend to focus on the following:
- Strengthening Exercises – Your physical therapist will likely work to strengthen the muscles in your hand as well as the surrounding muscles to help take some stress and strain off the affected tendon.
- Range Of Motion Exercises – Your physical therapist will also work to reestablish comfortable range of motion in the finger. Gentle stretching exercises can help the tendon begin to get used to normal motions and movements.
- Manual Therapy – Manual manipulation exercises will involve your PT gently maneuvering the finger as they see fit. These careful motions will help to reduce the catching sensation in your finger, release any potentially problematic scar tissue and also help to increase finger flexibility.
Aside from these in-clinic exercises, you can expect your physical therapist to develop a home-based therapy routine so that you can continue to make progress when you’re not at the clinic. Many patients see progress after just a few sessions!
For more information about treating trigger finger or other hand and finger ailments, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.