Trigger Finger

If you suffer from the condition known as trigger finger, experienced Cleveland hand surgeon Dr. Joseph Khouri may determine you are a good candidate for a procedure to treat it. This condition can be inconvenient and painful to live with. Surgery may be the right way to regain a degree of finger mobility while also eliminating finger pain. To learn more, and to arrange a consultation, please call us at 440-446-8600.

What is Trigger Finger?

Also called “stenosing tenosynovitis,” trigger finger causes discomfort and stiffness in fingers. It often affects the thumb and ring finger, but is found in all fingers.

First, a little background on the anatomy of this area is necessary: Tendons run along the length of the finger. These tendons connect to muscle leading all the way back to your forearm. Together, the muscle and tendon make it possible for you to flex your fingers. The tendons glide through a tunnel system called the tendon sheath.

Along the tendon sheath are bands called “pulleys,” which keep the tendon close to the bone. The tendon glides through the pulley. The pulley at the base of your finger, below the first knuckle is called the A1 pulley.

Trigger finger is caused by a thickened and/or inflamed A1 pulley. The tendon cannot glide smoothly through the A1 pulley when this occurs. As time passes, the tendon may develop its own inflammation and a nodule at the base of the pulley, caused by the rough travel through the pulley. A snapping or clicking sound may be heard as you pull the nodule through the pulley.
The cause is not always obvious. Underlying health conditions may contribute, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The pulley may also become inflamed as a result of overuse and repetitive movements. Musicians, as well as people working in industrial jobs, construction and agriculture may get trigger finger because of repetitive finger movement and grasping. Middle age women are more likely to develop trigger finger, but it does appear in males and females of all ages.

Trigger Finger Symptoms

The most common ailments of trigger finger are:

  • Finger pain/soreness
  • Finger clicking and snapping
  • Grating sensation when the finger flexes or extends
  • A bump at the base of the finger
  • Finger locks or catches when you bend and straighten it
  • Finger stiffness

You may notice that these symptoms are most pronounced in the morning. They may also arise when you try to grasp something, or as you bend and straighten a finger.

Trigger finger symptoms tend to worsen without treatment. Surgery may be a good option if the problem has progressed to a certain stage.

Trigger Finger Treatment

Most people seek out treatment once their trigger finger condition begins to affect their quality of life. The pain may become too much to bear. The inability to use the finger normally may become mentally overwhelming. If you think you have trigger finger and are ready to do something about it, several treatments exist.

Mild cases of trigger finger may be alleviated by resting the finger or wearing a splint. Oftentimes doctors will recommend over-the-counter NSAIDS to reduce inflammation. At some point, serious cases may require surgery. Dr. Khouri is an experienced provider of this procedure, and he will walk you through the process during your consultation. He’ll also let you know if there are any alternatives or other options to consider, such as steroid injections to the tendon sheath. He’ll let you know the likelihood of success for each option. Dr. Khouri wants to match you with the treatment that allows you to use your fingers again without pain and snapping.

Trigger finger release surgery: A small incision is made in the thickened pulley so that the tendon can glide smoothly through. Usually only local anesthesia is required. The pulley is released, and the tendon should pull smoothly through the tendon sheath.

Most patients achieve significant improvement from this procedure. It’s possible you won’t gain complete range of motion, but you should see improvement and relief from pain. Dr. Khouri will discuss all of the risks and make sure you are properly informed as part of consenting to surgery. It will take a few weeks for the incision to heal. It can take 4-6 months for swelling in your fingers to completely dissipate.

Arrange a Consultation to Learn More

To schedule a consultation with experienced Cleveland hand surgeon Dr. Joseph Khouri, please call 440-446-8600. Dr. Khouri will assess your trigger finger and determine the proper course of treatment.

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