The tendons that bend your fingers run through a tunnel or sheath. Sometimes the tendon can develop a thickened part which catches on the edge of the tunnel as the tendon glides in and out.
This can result in the tendon getting stuck in the tunnel and the finger ‘locks’ down into a bent position.
What are the symptoms of trigger finger?
You may notice that your finger locks down in one position and then when you bring up your finger, it clicks out of position - that is where the ‘triggering’ comes from. It can happen in any of your fingers and occasionally in the thumb. Sometimes when the triggering is quite bad the finger can stay down in one position, or if the triggering is in the thumb, the thumb doesn’t bend.
What tests and investigations are needed to diagnose trigger finger?
If you are showing an obvious triggering, you probably won’t require many tests.
Occasionally you may require an x-ray or ultrasound to see if there is any inflammation around the tendon, because rarely it can be due to some inflammatory conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis.
What is the treatment for trigger finger?
Treatment options are generally non invasive such as using anti inflammatories, massage, rest and avoiding activities that may cause it.
Steroid injections can be an effective way to unlock the tightness of the trigger finger with the effects lasting for a few years. The success rate of an injection is around 60%.
However, sometimes a simple 15 minute procedure under local anaesthetic may be needed, where a small incision is made in front of the finger and the sheath over the tendon is released.