Trigger Finger

Image of hand to reflect a trigger finger

Many parts of our bodies lose integrity as we age, and inflammation is so often the culprit for this loss of integrity. Arthritis is a disease of inflammation, and it can be debilitating to many. As we get older, our hands often bear the arthritic brunt, as we've been working with our hands our entire lives. One of the hand maladies that sometimes comes with aging is referred to as trigger finger, and it's the topic we'll explore here.

What is trigger finger?

Ever seen someone whose finger is stuck in a bent position? This is a telltale sign they have trigger finger. The finger resembles the trigger of a gun, hence the name. Inflammation is to blame for this deformation, as the tendons of the fingers responsible for flexing the fingers are the inflammatory victim here, causing total restriction of movement.

Risk factors for trigger finger

Some people are more prone to trigger finger than others. If you fall into any of the following categories, you're at a higher risk than others for this debilitating condition:

Trigger finger signs and symptoms

There are all sorts of telltale signs that point to potentially coming down with a trigger finger. They are:

What actually causes trigger finger?

The mechanism behind trigger finger is a bit complicated, but what basically comes to pass when trigger finger sets in is a narrowing of the tendon sheath that runs from your forearm to your hand. The sheath is like a tunnel for the long flexor tendon, and when the tunnel narrows, the tendon becomes inflamed. This swelling and inflammation of the tendon causes a restriction of movement for the muscles of the finger. If a lump develops as a result of inflammation, there's even more restriction of movement.

Trigger finger diagnosis

Dr. Eubanks will give you a simple physical exam, take inventory of your medical history, and ask a few questions for a proper diagnosis. Imaging and X-rays aren't typically necessary. After diagnosis, you and Dr. Eubanks will decide upon the best form of treatment for your particular situation.

Trigger finger at-home treatments

Early treatment for trigger finger is best, as the condition can grow more serious with time. If not treated, you may find another finger becomes locked in a bent (or even straight) position. The more fingers impacted, the harder it becomes to do ordinary tasks. For some, trigger finger can be treated at home. Here’s what you can do:

Steroid injections and prescription meds

Depending upon how advanced the condition has become, Dr. Eubanks may prescribe steroid injections to decrease inflammation and alleviate pain. On the other hand, there are prescription medications that help decrease inflammation and pain that are stronger than the over-the-counter ones. These may also be an option.

Surgery for trigger finger

When trigger finger has progressed, surgery is optimal. It's an outpatient surgery that involves a shot of anesthesia and an incision in the palm of the hand, and then an incision in the sheath of the tendon that's been restricted. The good news is, surgery can be done in the office—no hospital visit necessary. After this simple outpatient surgery, the healing process begins, which allows the entire area to be free of inflammation and restriction, allowing for movement in the finger once again. Sutures are typically removed about a week after surgery.

The healing and recovery process is different for everyone, varying from one month to six months, depending. Expect to receive postoperative homework, a.k.a. hand exercises to help the healing move right along. Some people will be able to return to normal activities with a few days of surgery, while others may need extra time to heal. Proper sleep, diet, and movement helps any and every healing process post surgery to flourish. Self-care is necessary during this time. Treat yourself with love.

Our Surgeon Specializing in Trigger Finger

Image of Dr. Ryan Eubanks, Hand, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon
  • Ryan Eubanks, DO
  • Hand, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon
  • Mesa
  • Learn More