Trigger Finger: What Helps?

Unexplained pain in your fingers, thumb and hand is perplexing. You haven’t hurt yourself at the gym or in an accident. What’s causing the pain? Any time you have pain of unknown origin, it’s time to see the doctor, and in this case, an orthopedic specialist. You may have a condition called trigger finger. 

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons at Coastal Empire Orthopedics treat many cases of finger and hand pain. Trigger finger is one of several hand conditions that we treat routinely. We get to the root cause of the ailment so that you receive a correct diagnosis. Your doctor outlines a treatment plan. 

What is trigger finger?  

If your orthopedic surgeon diagnoses trigger finger, or tenosynovitis in medical terms, you have inflamed tendons in your finger, hand, and/or thumb that are causing your pain. Your hand has tendons that travel through a narrow passageway in your palm and up into your fingers and thumb. The tendons help your fingers move easily. If they’re swollen, movement is impacted, and the finger or thumb can become locked in one position. 

Trigger finger symptoms 

The following symptoms are common signs that you may have trigger finger or trigger thumb. 

How did I get trigger finger?

Do you have a job or hobby that involves repetitive motion of your fingers or thumb? Perhaps you’re a musician -- a guitarist or trumpet player. You might work in a factory or a lab that requires precise motions involving your hand and fingers over and over throughout the day. People with these types of jobs are more at risk for trigger finger. If you have an autoimmune disease such as inflammatory arthritis, you’re more prone to this medical diagnosis.

Treatments for trigger finger

How impaired are you? Your orthopedic surgeon assesses the condition of your hand. In most cases, we start with conservative treatments; they work in the great majority of cases. If the treatment doesn’t work, surgery is an option. Following are effective treatments for your trigger finger or thumb

Medication

You’re probably already taking NSAIDs to try to relieve the discomfort in your hand. Your physician may offer a prescription drug for short-term use if the over-the-counter medication isn’t helping. 

Rest 

Resting the inflamed tendons in your hand and fingers is an important part of the treatment. Your doctor can write a note temporarily excusing you from required work activity that has contributed to your condition. 

 Ice 

Using ice packs on your hand and fingers can calm the swelling and help ease your discomfort. This should help the inflammation subside to a degree. 

Exercise and stretching 

When your inflammation has lessened, your physician or our nurse practitioner demonstrates beneficial stretches and gentle exercises. You may have a series of appointments with the therapist while you continue the treatments at home. Diligent practice yields increased flexibility and mobility. 

Once your pain has subsided, your doctor shows you gentle stretches and exercises for your finger or thumb. Practicing these exercises at home helps you regain mobility and flexibility. 

Injection

If you don’t have an inflammatory disease in addition to your trigger finger, your physician can provide a cortisone shot if you come in with intense pain. The shot should give you relief for months — even up to a year, with the boost of a second shot if needed. It’s usually not a permanent solution, though. You’ll need to do your exercises and stretches as prescribed as well as ice and rest the hand. 

Surgery 

If conservative treatments don’t provide needed relief, your surgeon explains the surgical procedure he uses to solve the problem. He can release the tendon that’s compressed. Another approach is breaking up the constriction with a needle guided by ultrasound. 

If you have unexplained pain in your fingers and hand, call or book an appointment online with Coastal Empire Orthopedics today. We’re your partner in your musculoskeletal health.  

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