Trigger Finger

Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is where a finger or thumb gets stuck in a bent position due to an inflamed or thickened tendon in the affected finger.

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Your Guide to Understanding Trigger Finger

Trigger Finger

What is Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger, medically known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that affects the fingers or thumb. It occurs when the tendon sheath in the affected digit becomes inflamed or thickened, causing the finger to get stuck in a bent position. The name "trigger finger" originates from the way the finger snaps back into a straight position, resembling the action of pulling and releasing a trigger.

The tendons in our fingers are responsible for connecting the muscles in the forearm to the bones in the fingers. When we move our fingers, these tendons glide smoothly through a protective sheath called the tendon sheath. However, when the tendon sheath becomes irritated or inflamed, it can restrict the movement of the tendon. In the case of trigger finger, this inflammation and thickening of the tendon sheath result in a narrowing of the space through which the tendon must pass. As a result, bending or straightening the affected finger becomes difficult and may cause pain or discomfort.

How can Chiropractic help treat Trigger Finger?

Chiropractic services can provide relief for individuals suffering from trigger finger, a condition where the finger gets stuck in a bent position and then pops back into place. Chiropractors can help alleviate trigger finger by addressing underlying joint dysfunction and inflammation. Through gentle adjustments, chiropractors can attempt to reduce friction and allow for smoother movement.

Additionally, chiropractic care often includes soft tissue therapies such as myofascial release or instrument-assisted techniques to address tightness in the surrounding muscles and tendons. By promoting proper joint function and reducing inflammation, chiropractic services can contribute to the alleviation of trigger finger symptoms.

What causes Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger is typically caused by a combination of factors that lead to inflammation and swelling in the tendons and tendon sheath of the fingers or thumb. While the exact cause is often unknown, there are several common factors that can contribute to the development of trigger finger.

Repetitive hand and finger movements, such as gripping or grasping activities, can strain the tendons and lead to irritation. Over time, this repetitive motion can cause the tendon sheath to thicken and become inflamed, narrowing the space through which the tendon needs to pass.

Certain medical conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, and hypothyroidism, are also associated with an increased risk of developing trigger finger. These conditions can affect the health and function of the tendons and contribute to inflammation in the finger joints.

Age is another factor that plays a role in the development of trigger finger. It is more commonly seen in individuals between the ages of 40 and 60, suggesting that age-related changes in the tendons and tissues may contribute to the condition.

In some cases, trigger finger may be caused by an acute injury or trauma to the hand or finger. This can result in inflammation and swelling of the tendons and tendon sheath, causing the finger to become stuck in a bent position.

What treatments might help Trigger Finger?

Treatment options can help improve trigger finger by reducing pain, relieving stiffness, and restoring normal finger movement. Here are some straightforward approaches:

  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain associated with trigger finger. These are available over-the-counter and may be recommended by a healthcare professional.
  • Splinting: Wearing a splint can help support and immobilize the affected finger, allowing the inflamed tendon sheath to rest and heal. It can also help alleviate stiffness and reduce triggering episodes.
  • Finger exercises and stretches: Gentle stretching exercises can help improve finger flexibility and reduce stiffness. A healthcare professional may recommend specific exercises tailored to your condition.
  • Hot water soak: Soaking the affected finger in warm water for up to 15 minutes can help relax the hand muscles and promote circulation. Adding Epsom salt to the water may provide additional relief.
  • Corticosteroid injections: In some cases, healthcare professionals may administer corticosteroid injections into the inflamed tendon sheath. These injections can help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms, allowing for improved finger movement.
  • Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT): This therapy involves using shock waves to stimulate healing and reduce pain in the affected finger. ESWT has shown effectiveness in conservative management of trigger finger.
  • Surgical intervention: If conservative treatments do not provide sufficient relief, surgery may be considered. Surgical procedures for trigger finger are typically quick, same-day procedures that aim to release the constricted tendon sheath and restore normal finger function.

Signs of Trigger Finger:

The signs of trigger finger can include the following:

  • Finger stiffness: One of the common signs is difficulty straightening or bending the affected finger. You may notice stiffness in the finger joint, making it challenging to move it smoothly.
  • Finger clicking or locking: Another sign is when the affected finger catches or locks in a bent position before suddenly popping back into place. This can happen when you try to straighten or bend your finger.
  • Finger pain or tenderness: Trigger finger can cause discomfort or pain at the base of the affected finger. The pain may worsen when you move or apply pressure to the finger.
  • Swelling or a bump: In some cases, you may notice swelling or a small bump at the base of the affected finger. This can be a result of inflammation and irritation in the tendon sheath.
  • Limited finger movement: As trigger finger progresses, you may experience a decrease in the range of motion of the affected finger. It may become more challenging to fully straighten or bend the finger.

Symptoms of Trigger Finger:

The symptoms of trigger finger can vary from person to person, but commonly include:

  • Finger stiffness or a sensation of tightness: You may experience difficulty in straightening or bending the affected finger smoothly. It may feel stiff or like there is resistance when trying to move it.
  • Pain or tenderness at the base of the finger: Trigger finger can cause discomfort or aching at the base of the affected finger. The pain may be more noticeable when you use your hand or apply pressure to the area.
  • Clicking or popping sensation: When attempting to straighten or bend the finger, you may feel or hear a clicking or popping sensation. This occurs when the tendon moves through the narrowed sheath.
  • Finger locking in a bent position: In severe cases, the affected finger may become stuck in a bent position and require manual effort to straighten it. It may straighten suddenly with a snap or pop.
  • Swelling or a small bump: Some individuals may notice swelling or a small, tender lump at the base of the finger where the tendon sheath is inflamed. This can contribute to the restricted movement.
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When is the right time to see a Chiropractor for Trigger Finger?

The right time to see a chiropractor for trigger finger is when you are experiencing persistent symptoms or difficulties with hand and finger movement. If you notice pain, stiffness, or your finger getting stuck in a bent position, it is advisable to seek professional guidance.

Remember, early intervention is key, and seeking professional care sooner rather than later can help prevent further complications and improve your hand and wrist function. It's important to choose a qualified and experienced healthcare professional in the respective field to ensure appropriate diagnosis and tailored treatment for your specific condition.

Meet our Lead Chiropractor

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Dr. Brett Herlehy


Doctor of Chiropractic from New York Chiropractic College

Dr. Brett enjoys working with active individuals looking to reach the next level and also anyone who is trying to incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives.

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