Treatment for Your Trigger Finger

If you have pain in your fingers and thumb for no apparent reason, it’s time to see an orthopedic specialist. Whether it’s osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or something else, it’s always best to diagnose and treat conditions before they worsen. Unexplained pain is a sign that your body needs medical attention. 

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons at Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine provide expert diagnosis and treatment for musculoskeletal conditions, including pain in your fingers and hand. He reviews your medical history and medications and conducts tests to determine the cause of the pain in your hand. It may be a condition called trigger finger. 

What is trigger finger?  

You may be diagnosed with trigger finger, also called tenosynovitis. Tendons pass through a narrow channel in your palm and fingers that permits your fingers to move and bend. If the tendons become inflamed, the finger or thumb can lock into one position. 

Symptoms of trigger finger

Any of the following symptoms can indicate that you have trigger finger or trigger thumb. 

Why do I have trigger finger?

If your job involves moving your fingers and/or thumb repeatedly using the same motions, you may inflame the tendons in your fingers and hand. Musicians as well as those working in a factory or on a farm are prone to this ailment. If you have inflammatory arthritis or diabetes,  you’re also more at risk than the general population. 

Effective treatments for trigger finger

Treatment depends on the condition of your fingers, thumb, and hand. In cases that aren’t severe, we use the following conservative treatments. If your impairment is severe and conservative treatment doesn’t work, your doctor recommends surgery. 

Medication

You’re likely already taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil® or Aleve® for your pain. Your physician can prescribe a stronger prescription medication for temporary use if you need it. 

Rest

You need a timeout from the activity that caused your pain. If the condition was caused by tasks you’re required to perform in your job, your doctor can provide a note to your employer excusing you for a period of time to allow your hand to heal.

Ice

As with other inflammatory conditions, applying ice packs periodically during the day can help relieve swelling and pain. 

Splint

Your physician may explain that you need to wear a splint to prevent the affected finger from moving. If your pain is worse in the morning, you can wear the splint at night as well.

Gentle exercises and stretches

Once your pain has subsided, one of our expert physical therapists shows you gentle stretches and exercises for your finger or thumb. Practicing these exercises at home helps you regain mobility and flexibility.  

Injection

If you don’t have diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or another inflammatory condition and your pain is severe, your physician administers a cortisone shot. You should start feeling relief in two or three days. The shot does provide relief, usually for up to a year, although you may need a second shot. 

However, if you don’t follow the other recommendations such as ice, rest, and exercises, you’ll continue to experience symptoms after the effect of the shot wears off. 

Surgery

If conservative treatments don’t work for you, your physician explains how surgery can remedy your trigger finger. Your surgeon works on an area at the base of your finger or thumb and opens the part of the tendon that’s tightly compressed. 

An alternate approach is percutaneous release, in which your surgeon uses a needle to break up the part of the tendon that’s constricted; the procedure is guided via ultrasound so your surgeon can see the placement of the needle. 

If you have musculoskeletal pain in your fingers, hand, or elsewhere in your body, call or book an appointment online with Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine today for specialized diagnosis and treatment. 

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