Ever Experienced Trigger Finger?
Maybe you have it and are considering your treatment options?
What is trigger finger?
The Mayo Clinic defines trigger finger as "stenosing tenosynovitis, a condition in which one of your fingers gets stuck in a bent position. Your finger may straighten with a snap — like a trigger being pulled and released. Trigger finger occurs when inflammation narrows the space within the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. If trigger finger is severe, your finger may become locked in a bent position."
Symptoms of trigger finger
"Signs and symptoms of trigger finger may progress from mild to severe and include:
- Finger stiffness, particularly in the morning
- A popping or clicking sensation as you move your finger
- Tenderness or a bump (nodule) in the palm at the base of the affected finger
- Finger catching or locking in a bent position, which suddenly pops straight
- Finger locked in a bent position, which you are unable to straighten" (Mayo Clinic)
What are your treatment options?
Trigger finger can be a problematic condition that affects your daily activities, especially if you have a job that requires you to repeatedly grip items. Treatment may seem limited to corticosteroid injections, anti-inflammatory medications or surgery.
However, manual treatments may also be helpful. Graston and other instrument assisted soft tissue techniques can help promote circulation and limit the amount of "catching" or "locking" that occurs in the tendon sheath by breaking up the fibrous scar tissue that can occur around the inflammed tendon sheath. This fibrous scarring can create nodules that you can feel and which promote the tendon to lock in place.
Laser therapy may also be beneficial for those with arthritis and a tendency to remain inflammed or sore post-manual treatment. The laser helps reduce pain and inflammation in the area, to speed up your recovery. As with acupuncture, laser therapy will be beneficial when used both locally over the affected tendons and into the forearm muscles of those tendons. By addressing the tendons and the related muscles, treatment results are found to be longer lasting between sessions, regardless of activities.
Other treatment options can include physiotherapy to learn specific exercises and stretches that may further progress your case, and/or nutritional counselling. Nutritional supplements can be used to reduce inflammation, support collagen and tissue repair, or even speed up how quickly bruising clears up after treatment. Nutritional suggestions are effective and complimentary when other health concerns are present in patients who also have trigger finger, the elderly, and/or anyone sensitive to corticosteroid use.
If you are considering treatment for your trigger finger, consider the following before surgery:
- Instrument assisted soft tissue therapy (gaston, etc)
- Laser Therapy
- Nutritional counselling (supplementation or diet modification)
If surgery is indicated for your case, seek a consultation with a plastic or orthopedic surgeon. Depending on the finger affected and the severity of the case, the surgeon may choose to do a percutaneous surgery or an open surgery. The percutaneous approach is often suggested for the index, middle and ringe fingers, while open surgical techniques are suggested for the thumb and little finger. Always speak to your health care provider for more information regarding your options.
Have a healthy day,
Dr. Shruti Sharma, DC, MSACN