Trigger finger occurs when there is an irritation in the long tendons within our fingers.  This irritation creases a nodule or bump of inflammation in the tendon. This can reduce the smooth gliding and lead to pain in the fingers.

Your fingers don’t have any muscle. Well, not exactly anyway.  Our fingers act more like a pully system, with the bulk of the muscle existing in our forearms and hands.  Where the tendons extend to the tips of our fingers, to hold these long tendons in place, there are a series of short bands that run perpendicular to the tendons below each joint.1  This allows us to bend at each of the three joints in our fingers. While this design is excellent in performing the fingers' complex movements, it may also lead to a pathology known as trigger finger.  Trigger finger occurs when there is an irritation in the long tendons within our fingers.  This irritation creases a nodule or bump of inflammation in the tendon. This can reduce the smooth gliding and lead to pain in the fingers.  As the digit is used more, the inflammation increases and the bump becomes larger.  Then the finger is flexed.  This bump can squeeze through the perpendicular tendons and become stuck. Leaving the finger flexed.1 

Trigger Finger

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms

Trigger finger is most common in the ring finger and thumb of the dominant hand.1 It usually occurs, and pain comes on slowly over time. Other symptoms you may experience are aches in the palm, clicks, locking or catching of the finger, stiffness, cramping, or swelling at the affected finger's base.1 Often, the affected finger will be stiffer in the morning as it has not moved as you sleep. It is important to warm up your tendons in the morning slowly. Trigger finger is associated with jobs that require repetitive use of tools that vibrate and need a trigger motion of the finger, such as a drill.2 Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, diabetes, amyloidosis gout, thyroid disease, and rheumatoid arthritis may increase the risk of developing trigger finger.1

Treatment Options

Treatment of trigger finger involves managing swelling, taking down the inflammation and regaining range in the finger and finally strengthening.  To manage the swelling, we suggest ice but heat may also be used under some circumstances.  Anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil may also be used to help reduce the swelling.  In some cases, a cortisone injection is done to help reduce the swelling of the tendon.  Cross frictioning of the tissue is sometimes done, to help improve movement and blood flow.  In more advanced cases bracing for 3-9 weeks may be required.1 

Passive range of motion is a great option to get affected fingers moving again.  It helps to move the path of the tissue to one another.  Without placing tension on them, this decreases the friction (Exercise Set 1).  Finally, some strengthening of the finger muscles isometrically (no movement of the joints) will help to improve the health of the tendons.  This is a way of exercising that does not cause movement or friction of the tendons because they are not sliding past each other (Exercise Set 2).4

Treatment Options

About These Exercises

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About These Exercises

References

References

1. Jeanmonod R, Harberger S, Waseem M. Trigger Finger. StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020

2.Is Occupation an Aetiological Factor in the Development of Trigger Finger? - A. J. H. TREZIES, A. R. LYONS, K. FIELDING, T. R. C. DAVIS, 1998.

3.Trigger Finger: Location and Association of Comorbidities - ProQuest [Internet]. [cited 2021 Feb 9].

4.Trigger finger: An overview of the treatment options : Journal of the American Academy of PAs

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