My Fingers Are Stuck! All About Trigger Finger

Have you ever felt like you couldn’t straighten your fingers without feeling clicking and popping? Did you ever feel as if your fingers were going to be bent permanently? Have you tried pulling your finger only to feel like it was about to break?

Trigger finger is troublesome and highly inconvenient; it occurs when one of your fingers (usually your ring finger) is locked in an awkward bent position. It’s also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, and is a common issue in many patients.

What causes trigger finger?

Trigger finger has a myriad of causes, but most often occurs in people who participate in activities that require strenuous and repetitive motions of the fingers and the thumbs. This includes movements such as forceful and strong gripping, grasping and holding. For example, musicians like violinists frequently experience the condition from the rapid switching of chords that involves extremely tight and nimble gripping. It may also be caused by direct trauma and other repetitive movements like typing and playing video games.

These movements inflame the tendons that connect muscles in the hands and fingers to the bones. The tendons swell, which means they do not glide through their sheaths (tissue tunnels that keep the tendons in place next to the bones of the fingers) as smoothly, causing the painful popping sensation and trapped feeling. Sometimes, nodules form on the tendon sheath, obstructing movement through the sheath even more. The sheath itself may also be thickened and cause more pain.

This graphic from Mayo Clinic illustrates the pathology of the trigger finger:

When a nodule forms on the tendon or the tendon sheath, the tendon no longer glides as smoothly, obstructing movement and locking the finger into a bent position. (Source: Mayo Clinic)

Other risk factors for trigger finger include arthritis (particularly rheumatoid, gout and osteoarthritis), diabetes and age: patients between the ages of 40-60 are the most common demographic.

Besides the symptoms mentioned earlier, other signs of trigger finger include:

  • A tender lump in the palm
  • Stiffness
  • Feeling like the tendon is dislocated when breaking free

How do I manage my trigger finger?

Thankfully, the trigger finger can be eased with several simple exercises. Maintaining flexibility and consistency is key.

One way is simply to let the affected fingers rest and avoid any sort of strenuous activity involving said fingers. Chiropractors may also recommend some of the following exercises to restore mobility and function:

  • Finger extensor stretch: with your palm down, lift the affected finger gently and go as high as possible, holding the position for a few seconds before release. Repeat 5 times and do this thrice a day.
  • Finger abduction stretches: form a V shape with the affected finger and an adjacent finger, and press them together with your thumb and index finger from your opposite hand, before extending into a V shape again.
  • Tennis ball exercise: Squeeze a tennis or stress ball in the affected hand for a few seconds and release, repeating this exercise 5-10 times a day.
Chiropractors can demonstrate stretches such as this to help you maintain flexibility and reduce the discomfort caused by trigger finger.
You may use a tennis ball or stress ball to squeeze the affected hand like this.

The finger-thumb circle stretch includes the use of a band to strengthen the finger muscles.

Chiropractors may also prescribe special therapies to treat trigger fingers. Stretches and exercises can also help to restore normal finger mobility and prevent future episodes.

The Active Release Technique (ART) is used to break up scar tissue caused by injuries to the muscles and tendons, which is often the case in trigger fingers.

Occasionally, chiropractors may also use instruments to relieve muscle tension in the affected area, thus restoring function. On top of that, ultrasound helps with reducing inflammation around the affected tendon and sheath enabling the tendon to move better through the sheath. Chiropractic adjustments also restore mobility to the affected finger and relax the muscles and tendons in the hand.

If you suspect that you may have a trigger finger or would like to get to know some specific treatments for your condition, feel free to give us a call at 62084669 or drop us an email wecare@mychirocare.sg!