Also called stenosing tenosynovitis, trigger finger is a painful condition tat develops when the tendons that help move a finger become “stuck” or stiff. Preventing normal movement of the finger and causing it to remain in a bent position. Trigger finger is more common among women, those between the ages of 40 and 60 years, and those with underlying issues like arthritis, diabetes or gout. People whose work requires repetitive gripping are also at greater risk for developing stenosing tenosynovitis. The condition can affect any finger, but it's much more common in the thumb.
Trigger finger develops as a result of inflammation in the area surrounding the tendons that help control the movements of the thumb or other fingers. The tendons are strong fibrous bands of tissue that connect muscles. Tendons are surrounded by a protecting sheath, and when they move, they glide back and forth inside the sheath. When the sheath becomes inflamed and swollen, it can press against the tendon, narrowing the space through which the tendon moves and making it much more difficult for the tendon to function properly. This inflammation can cause the tendon to become “stuck” in position. Without proper and prompt medical attention, the sheath can become scarred and thick, making it even more difficult for the tendon to move normally.
In its early stages, stenosing tenosynovitis can cause stiffness in the fingers, especially in the morning. The finger may feel as though it's “catching” when trying to straighten the finger, suddenly “popping” loose. Sometimes, movement can be accompanied by a popping noise. As the condition becomes worse, pain increases and eventually, the finger will be unable to straighten.
In its early and more mild stages, trigger finger may be treated with rest and splinting to keep the finger in a straightened position while the sheath heals. Injections of corticosteroids can help relieve inflammation as well. When these conservative approaches are ineffective, minimally-invasive surgery may be recommended to loosen the sheath so the tendon can move normally.
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