In the world of orthopedics, joint replacements, ACL tears, and fractures seem to get most of the attention while the myriad of lesser known pathologies wreak havoc on people’s ability to get through their normal daily activities without discomfort. So many of these pathologies go undiagnosed or untreated for months and even years, but patients see them as more of a nuisance rather than a true orthopedic problem. Today’s blog post is dedicated to one of these such pathologies-the trigger finger.
A trigger finger is a fairly common occurrence recognized by the telltale ‘triggering’ or catching of a finger as it tries to work through its normal bending. The technical term for this condition is ‘stenosing tenosynovitis’ and results from the thickening of the pulley that assists the tendon, which prevents the tendon from gliding easily through it. The exact cause of a trigger finger remains unknown, but it is thought that repetitive gripping could be a contributing factor. Additionally, comorbidities such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes are often associated with trigger finger development.
Over time, the clicking, popping, and triggering can worsen if not treated. Sometimes, patients come to see us with a finger that can no longer extend without being pried open manually. Other patients notice that the base of their finger becomes visibly swollen and subsequently uncomfortable. It is not uncommon for patients to come in with several fingers affected by this condition all at one time. Though not a dangerous condition, a trigger finger can affect one’s ability to function in daily life, especially if the problematic finger is on your dominant hand.
Conservative management of trigger fingers can include oral anti-inflammatory medication, activity modification, and the occasional steroid injection to alleviate swelling and inflammation so the pulley doesn’t hinder the motion of the tendon. Cortisone injections can be provided at an office visit with your doctor if deemed appropriate. If non-surgical treatment fails, a procedural option is available that involves releasing the pulley to allow unrestricted motion of the finger. This procedure can typically be done at The Orthopaedic Surgery Center attached to our main clinic building. Rather than general anesthetic, the procedure only requires a local anesthetic
and is one of the least invasive procedures we offer. The recovery time is minimal as well and often results in a finger that functions much more normally without the clicking and popping.
If you can no longer play ‘Pull my finger’ with your triggering digit, give us a call to explore your treatment options!
This blog is written by one of our very own-Morgan. She is a certified athletic trainer working as a medical assistant with our providers each and every day in our clinic. She obtained a bachelor's degree in athletic training from Carroll University in Waukesha and a master's degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State University. She is excited to bring you updates and information about the happenings at OAW.