Are you experiencing flexor tendonitis or stenosing tenosynovitis? While these may not sound familiar, they are better known as “trigger finger.” This condition affects the thumb or fingers and can cause the digit to be stuck in a bent condition. When straightening the finger or thumb, it can snap into the straight position with a popping sound or sensation.
Trigger finger is caused by inflammation in the sheath around the tendons in the fingers. This inflammation tightens the tendon and creates restricted movement. When the finger is bent, it can be difficult to restraighten it due to the inflammation. The finger may be sore and stiff, with symptoms worsening in the morning. Trigger finger can be caused by repetitive gripping motions, infections, arthritis and other health conditions.
Conservative Treatments for Trigger Finger
Most patients can find relief and improved finger movement with conservative treatments for trigger finger. The goal is to reduce inflammation in the sheath around the tendons and restore proper movement. This can be accomplished through a combination of conservative treatments over several weeks or months, including:
- Medications. Anti-inflammatory medications can help relieve pain and inflammation in the finger. Non-steroidal options (NSAIDs) are usually the first recommended.
- Rest. Resting the finger can provide relief. This could include restricting movement of the finger for up to 6 weeks or putting the finger in a splint for 2-4 weeks.
- Exercises. Physical or occupational therapy may be recommended to stretch and strengthen the finger, along with heat, ice or massage to loosen the tendons.
- Ice. Ice is always recommended for reducing inflammation. An ice or cold compress can be applied for up to 15 minutes three to four times daily.
- Steroid injections. Steroid injections can relieve inflammation in the finger to allow smoother movement.
Most patients with trigger finger respond to conservative treatments and are able to avoid surgery. In severe cases where the condition does not respond to these treatments, a tendon release surgery may be recommended to relieve discomfort and improve finger/hand mobility.
If you have been diagnosed with trigger finger and want to explore treatment options, contact us at Shoulders & Knees in NYC or Westchester. We can schedule an exam and consultation with Steven Struhl, MD.