A trigger finger injury can be as serious as any dislocation or fracture. If you are struggling with daily activities due to trigger finger, either at home or at work, educating yourself about this type of injury will make recovery a smooth process. This complete injury guide will give you a general idea about what happens if you have trigger finger, how it develops, and what you can do about it.
Trigger finger is a painful condition that affects one or more tendons—strong bands of tissue that attach muscles to bones. This type of injury causes the thumb and fingers to lock after they have been bent. With trigger finger, pain comes from inflamed tendon sheaths that may result in scarring and thickening when left untreated. This in turn will impede the hand’s range of motion.
This debilitating condition commonly affects women more than men, and it tends to occur most often in individuals who are aged 40 to 60 years old. Most of the time, the way we constantly move our hands won’t cause issues, but that does not mean that trigger finger will not develop as a result of overuse and everyday wear and tear.
What Causes Trigger Finger
How do you get trigger finger? Researchers have found that a trigger finger is often a complication of long-standing diabetes. Due to high blood glucose levels, the connective tissues in the hand become glycated and get damaged.
Another condition, known as Dupuytren’s contracture, may also increase a person’s likelihood of developing trigger finger. Arthritis is also sometimes associated with trigger finger.
This musculoskeletal condition also occurs during:
Work-related tasks: It is claimed that employees who perform repetitive tasks, such as typing and computer mouse clicking, are prone to developing trigger finger (tendonitis). The condition can also be caused by a strenuous job that involves the forceful use of the thumb or finger.
Extreme sports activities: The risk of trigger finger is higher in contact sports, such as basketball, wrestling, or hockey.
Overuse: Musicians, farmers, and industrial workers usually suffer from trigger finger due to excessive thumb and finger movements. Even those who spent many hours using handheld devices can get trigger finger.
Trigger Finger Symptoms
The symptoms of untreated trigger finger will progress from mild to severe. Apart from the persistent sharp pain, trigger finger causes stiffness, particularly after waking up. Other trigger finger symptoms to watch out for include:
Warmth, swelling and tenderness
A bump at the base of the finger or thumb
A painful clicking or popping sensation
Inability to straighten the finger
Finger locking or catching, then suddenly snapping
Limited hand mobility
Trigger finger may affect one or more fingers and sometimes both hands. The inflammation is what causes dull, aching pain as well as reduced range of motion. These signs and symptoms are more noticeable in the morning.
Trigger Finger Diagnosis
Contact your doctor right away if you think you may have a trigger finger injury. It can be diagnosed with a comprehensive physical exam of the hand. No imaging tests or lab tests are needed to diagnose trigger finger.
Trigger Finger Treatment
Can trigger finger go away? There are many treatment options available for this painful condition, and he right method will depend on the severity of your injury.
Home Remedies for Trigger Finger
Some home treatments to alleviate the symptoms include resting, pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, self-massage, and alternating hot and cold therapy. Although the injury may get better without any trigger finger remedies, the longer the symptoms last, the more severe they will become.
If you are going to apply an ice pack on your fingers, make sure it stays only for ten to twenty minutes at a time. You can do cold therapy every one to two hours, or until the swelling goes down. Elevating your hand every time you sit or lie down will also help reduce swelling.
Trigger Finger Splint
Another reliable remedy is to immobilize the finger with a trigger finger splint to immobilize the inflamed area and give it a chance to heal. This padded finger support provides maximum comfort and prevent repetitive, forceful movements of the finger. Wear one during the day and while sleeping at night to protect the injured finger.
Trigger Finger Injection
Serious cases may require trigger finger injection. Your doctor may prescribe a cortisone shot for trigger finger to shrink the nodule, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pain and discomfort. Although a cortisone injection may help relieve the triggering, the results may be short term.
Trigger Finger Exercises
Exercising is necessary to get the hand back to optimal functioning. You have to perform the trigger finger stretches correctly to achieve the best results. Be sure, though, to keep your doctor or physiotherapist informed prior to starting a new exercise program. Listed below are some trigger finger and hand exercises that you can do at home to gradually improve your flexibility.
Step 1: To start off, put your thumb and fingers together. Then, wrap an elastic band around them.
Step 2: Slowly move your fingers away from the thumb until you feel the stretch.
Step 3: Hold the position for 5 seconds, then return to the starting position.
Step 4: Perform 1 set of 3 repetitions a day.
Step 1: Grab a stress ball and place it in your palm.
Step 2: Squeeze it gently for 1 to 2 seconds, then release the grip by opening your fingers wide.
Step 3: Repeat for 5 minutes and do this exercise at least two more times a day.
Step 1: Lay your hand on a flat surface, with your palms facing down.
Step 2: Slowly lift the injured finger, then hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds before releasing it back down. You can use your other hand to assist the affected finger when lifting it.
Step 3: Perform at least 1 set of 3 repetitions per day.
Trigger Finger Therapy
You can do trigger finger therapy anywhere. Listen to your body’s warning signals, but try to spend thirty minutes to an hour daily doing specialized hand therapy. The only things you will need to prevent permanent stiffness and help you gain strength are: therapy putty, a finger exerciser, and finger extension strengthener.
Looking for a fun and effective workout? Try therapy putty for a new way to stretch your fingers. ( See Product at Amazon)
Try using therapy putty when performing the Finger Spread exercise, instead of using an elastic band. This high-quality putty is perfect for enhancing your fine motor skills, decreasing the stiffness, and strengthening the hand muscles and tendons. The therapy putty can be stretched, pinched, twisted, and squeezed.
See for yourself how a spring-loaded digit exerciser keeps your fingers in top form. ( See Product at Amazon)
Lightweight and compact, a digit exerciser ensures finger dexterity and hand strength. It features three levels of targeted resistance, which will be useful for physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Hand and Finger Extension Strengthener
Portable, simple, and fun, these finger extension strengtheners are just the thing to maintain dexterity. ( See Product at Amazon)
With the use of a finger extension strengthener, trigger finger treatment without surgery is possible. This device is perfect for stretching and strengthening the extensor muscles, as it has three tension levels for easy progressive finger therapy.
Trigger Finger Surgery
In case of a severe trigger finger injury, surgical intervention on the affected sheath may be required. The decision is up to you, whether the conservative and at-home treatments have failed and based on how serious your symptoms are.
Usually done on an outpatient basis, trigger finger release surgery is a quick procedure to widen the opening of the tunnel to let the tendon move freely through it again. It is best to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Trigger Finger Recovery Time
The estimated healing time depends on the severity of your injury. If you have undergone trigger finger release surgery, it will be difficult to move your hand and fingers at first. Have no worry because that usually gets better after several weeks. It may take approximately six weeks for your injury to heal completely.
What to expect after trigger finger surgery:
Fingers will be swollen and sore for a couple of days.
You may feel a tingling sensation or numbness near the incision.
The doctor will remove the stitches probably two weeks after the procedure.
To avoid trigger finger surgery complications, it’s important that you know how to care for yourself at home. Get enough sleep and try to go for a morning walk every day. No heavy lifting and repeated hand movements a week or two after the procedure. Be sure to change the gauze bandage daily to keep the area clean, but do not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide because it may slow healing.
How To Prevent Trigger Finger
Waking up with one or more of your fingers crooked or curled is undoubtedly troubling, and as the condition limits finger movement, your daily routine may be affected. Fortunately, the tips mentioned above are effective for prevention and treatment of trigger finger. However, keep in mind that early diagnosis is essential to ensure that you will not suffer any long-term effects.
Jessica Hegg is the content manager at ViveHealth.com. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle. Through her writing she works to share valuable information aimed at overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life for others.
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