Trigger finger is a medical condition in which one or more of your fingers gets locked in a bent position, similar to if you were attempting to squeeze the trigger of a firearm. However, it isn’t just caused by extended time at the firing range. Trigger finger can develop for a number of different reasons, and it’s more common than you might expect. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at why trigger finger develops, the symptoms associated with the condition and how a physical therapist can help you treat it.
Causes And Symptoms Of Trigger Finger
Trigger finger can develop when the tendon or the tendon sheath becomes inflamed. This inflammation narrows the opening through which the tendon runs, restricting its movement. Left untreated, this prolonged inflammation can lead to scarring and the formation of nodules on the tendon which further limits finger movement and can result in the finger remaining fixed in a bent state.
Trigger finger can develop in any finger, but it most commonly occurs in the pointer finger, thumb and little finger, and it also is more common on the dominant hand because it is used more frequently. The exact cause of it’s development is unknown, but repetitive hand tasks and jobs that require a lot of gripping can contribute to the condition. Older individuals and those with certain medical conditions like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis are also more prone to trigger finger.
Symptoms of trigger finger include:
- A clicking or snapping sensation when moving the finger
- Stiffness, especially in the morning
- A visible bend in the finger when it’s at rest
- A bump on the palm side of the hand at the base of the affected finger
- Loss of grip strength
- Difficulty performing fine motor tasks
Diagnosing and Treating Trigger Finger
Diagnosing trigger finger is a relatively straightforward process that doesn’t need to be made by a doctor or a specialist, You’re welcome to go to your general practitioner or a hand specialist, but since they will likely refer you for physical therapy, you can cut out the middleman and save yourself some time and money by going straight to a PT clinic. Your PT or doctor will take a look at your finger, ask you about your symptoms and daily activities, and they’ll have you perform some manipulation exercises to see which actions you can perform and which ones are difficult. From there, they should be able to diagnose your condition and the location of any offending nodules.
Treatment for trigger finger can vary based on the severity of the condition. With that said, a general course of treatment for trigger finger involves a combination of physical therapy, gentle exercise, medication and activity restriction to reduce inflammation. In more serious cases, steroid injections and even corrective surgery may be advised, but in many cases, conservative care provides relief.
Non-operative methods and physical therapy are much more likely to be successful if the condition is treated in its infancy, which is why it’s so important to seek treatment at the first sign of symptoms. So if you notice that your finger appears bent when at rest or you have difficulty straightening it or gripping items, seek out a physical therapist to help correct the problem before it becomes worse and more painful. For more information, or for help with your finger discomfort, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.
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