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  • Emily McGuire

Hands-On Healing: Trigger Finger Treatments for Lasting Pain Relief

Our hands are remarkable tools that we rely on for countless tasks daily. However, when one of the fingers develops an unexpected hitch, it can be both uncomfortable and concerning. One such condition that affects the smooth operation of our digits is trigger finger, a common ailment with distinctive symptoms and various treatment options. In this blog post, we’ll discuss trigger finger, shedding light on its symptoms and the available treatment avenues.

Hand with trigger finger pain

What is Trigger Finger?

Stenosing tenosynovitis, commonly known as trigger finger, is a condition affecting the tendons in the fingers or thumb. The tendons that control the movement of our fingers become inflamed, making it difficult for them to glide smoothly within the tendon sheath. This inflammation can result in a variety of symptoms, from mild discomfort to the more noticeable catching or locking of the affected digit.

Diagram of trigger finger displaying a nodule where the tendon enters the tendon sheath

Common Symptoms of Trigger Finger

  • Finger Stiffness: Individuals with trigger finger often experience stiffness in the affected digit, which can be more pronounced in the morning.

  • Pain and Tenderness: The base of the finger or thumb may become painful and tender, especially when pressure is applied. It can sometimes feel as though there is a lump where the finger meets the palm – this is a nodule where the tendon has become bunched.

  • Catching or Popping Sensation: A distinct catching or popping sensation may occur when bending or straightening the affected finger.

  • Swelling: Inflammation of the affected tendons can lead to swelling, contributing to discomfort and reduced flexibility.

  • Finger Locking: In severe cases, the finger may lock in a bent position, requiring manual assistance to straighten.



Understanding the Causes

Trigger finger can result from a variety of factors, including repetitive hand movements, gripping activities, and certain health conditions like diabetes. Overuse or strain on the hand and finger tendons can lead to inflammation and the development of trigger finger symptoms.


Treatment Options for Trigger Finger

  • Rest and Modification of Activities: Providing the affected hand with adequate rest and avoiding repetitive or forceful activities can help alleviate symptoms.

  • Splinting: Wearing a splint to keep the affected finger straight can reduce strain on the tendons and promote healing.

  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroid injections may be prescribed by a physician to reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Hand Therapy: Engaging in targeted exercises under the guidance of a hand therapy specialist can enhance finger flexibility and strength.

  • Surgical Intervention: In severe cases where conservative measures are ineffective, surgical procedures may be considered to release the affected tendon sheath.


The Role of Hand Therapy in Trigger Finger Management

Hand therapy is a specialized field of rehabilitation that focuses on treating conditions affecting the hand, wrist, and arm. In the case of trigger finger, hand therapy can offer several benefits:

  • Customized Exercises: Hand therapists create personalized exercise regimens to improve finger mobility and strength, addressing your specific needs.

  • Joint Mobilization Techniques: Therapists use hands-on techniques to mobilize and improve the movement of affected joints, reducing stiffness and promoting flexibility.

  • Education and Ergonomics: Hand specialists educate individuals about ergonomic principles and hand care techniques to prevent exacerbation of trigger finger symptoms.

  • Scar Management: For those who have undergone surgical intervention for trigger finger, hand therapists assist in scar management to optimize healing and prevent adhesions.


Overcoming Trigger Finger

Trigger finger can be a challenging condition, impacting the daily lives of those affected. Seeking timely medical attention, exploring various treatment options, and incorporating hand therapy into the management plan can significantly improve outcomes and restore hand function. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of trigger finger, don't hesitate to consult with a healthcare professional and consider the valuable support that hand therapy can provide in your journey to recovery.


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Emily McGuire is a Marketing Associate and staff writer for Rehab United. With a Bachelor's degree in International Business from UC San Diego, she is a California native with a passion for writing, digital marketing, health, and wellness.

Medically Reviewed By: Arturo Valle, PT, DPT, FAFS, CSCS, STMT-1, BFR-1, CCI, is a Physical Therapist, Clinic Director of Rehab United in Escondido, and Director of Rehab United’s Quality Assurance Program. As a graduate of USC’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, Dr. Valle has always emphasized the implementation of Evidence-Based Practice into all plans of care. Throughout his 12 years of experience, Dr. Valle has treated thousands of orthopedic-related and sports injuries and mentored countless Physical Therapists and Students of Physical Therapy.

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