There are many people who suffer from an illness called “trigger finger.” This is a problem which involves pain in a certain finger. Its scientific name is stenosing tenosynovitis, which literally means that there is a narrowing of a tunnel or tube-like structure in the finger as well as an inflammation or swelling of the tendon.
The affected tube-like structures and tendons are what allow the finger to be flexed so when they are affected, a finger or thumb remains flexed. Trigger finger may be caused by highly repetitive or forceful use of a finger or thumb. Sometimes, it is caused by handling certain devices or machineries which require a firm grip. It may also be a result of certain medical conditions such as rheumatism, arthritis, diabetes, or gout. But the main cause has not yet been identified or specified.
Trigger finger is a common problem among farmers, industrial workers, and even musicians. This is because their hands are positioned in a certain way for a long time, which causes stress to the fingers. It is a common problem among patients aged from 40 to 60 years old and is more common among women than men. Perhaps it has something to do with calcium deficiencies which are more commonly seen in women than men.
The first sign of trigger finger is felt when there is pain in the finger. The finger is usually swollen and there may also be a lump near the joints or knuckles. Also, the finger may not be stretched and remains in a bent position. Diagnosing a trigger finger does not need an X-ray.
Trigger finger is usually treated like a sprain or fracture. The first thing a doctor may recommend is to use a splint to help keep the finger straight and inactive. The patient may also be advised not to operate heavy machinery that will keep the hands in a prolonged position. Medications for treatment are also the common painkillers such as ibuprofen or naproxen, which will help reduce the inflammation. If those recommendations don’t work, steroids may be injected into the tendon sheath. Finger surgery, usually a last resort, is recommended for extreme cases.
Recovery usually takes a couple of weeks. If using a splint, four weeks or more are required in order for the finger to fully heal. And for those who take medication, only a few weeks are needed for treatment until the fingers can be moved freely.
It is important to consult a doctor immediately upon feeling any of the symptoms. Patients who ignore the symptoms of trigger finger for months may suffer from pain that may not subside and the finger may no longer be bent or straightened the way it used to.