Trigger Finger Information

Trigger Finger Information

Trigger finger, also called trigger digit or trigger thumb, is a painful dysfunction of a finger or thumb. It may also be medically referred to as a stenosing tenosynovitis, flexor tendinitis, or digital tenovaginitis stenosans.

 


Trigger Finger


Anatomy As It Relates To Trigger Finger

There aren’t any muscles in the fingers. Finger movement is actually accomplished by the forearm muscles pulling the tendons that attach to the bones in the fingers. These tendons are called flexor tendons and are smooth, thick, flexible, cord-like tissues. All of the tendons that move the fingers are held in place by a series of pulley-like ligaments forming an arch atop the bone. This arch forms a tunnel so that the tendons can glide smoothly and in a straight line along the bone when the flexor muscles are contracted. Tendons are also covered in a tendon sheath and lubricated with a slippery coating called tenosynovium to reduce friction as it moves.

What Is Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger occurs when someone tries to bend one of their hand digits inward toward the palm (drawing the fingers and thumb inwardly to form a fist). Instead of the smooth continual closure, the affected digit will momentarily stick or stutter at the opening of the tendon tunnel. The finger is in a bent position when it passes the opening. As the finger forces past the opening, the finger suddenly snaps into a closed position. Trigger finger may occur in any of the fingers or thumbs and may affect more than one digit at a time. While trigger finger most often affects digits in the dominant hand, it can occur in either hand.


What Causes Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger is caused by one of the flexor tendons being irritated as it slides through the above mentioned tunnel. As irritation continues, the affected tendon may thicken, swell, scar, and develop nodules, all of which make passing through the tunnel difficult. The tendon sheath may also thicken, thereby causing less room at the opening of the tunnel. Each time the tendon catches as the finger is bent, it causes more irritation to the tendon itself. While the precise cause of the irritation isn’t known, there are many risk factors and medical conditions thought to contribute to tendon and tendon sheath irritation:

* rheumatoid arthritis
* diabetes
* hypothyroidism
* amyloidosis
* tuberculosis
* activities that require repetitive gripping actions
* inflammation from a repetitive overuse or strain injury

What Are The Symptoms Of Trigger Finger?

* the affected thumb or finger will stick, lock-up, or stutter as it’s flexed closed, then suddenly snap into the closed position
* pain where the affected finger and palm meet
* pain may progress from mild to severe as the tendon continues to stick
* an audible and/or sensation of popping may be present when the finger is bent
* a tender nodule may form at the base of the affected finger
* in severe cases joint stiffness and joint contraction may occur
* the affected finger may be swollen

 

Strengthening Exercises

These Finger Exercises are ideal to build strength and flexibility.

Massage Treatment

Depress your finger into the soft tissue around the joint and make small circular motions around the sore areas of the joint.

 

ACUTE STAGE SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

 

This stage is characterized by swelling, redness, pain, and possibly a local sensation of heat, indicating inflammation. If coolness makes your pain feel better, then the Acute Stage Treatment is recommended.

 

ACUTE STAGE SYMPTOMS:

 

The acute stage starts the moment an injury occurs and lasts until the swelling and inflammation are gone. The swelling is the result of the blockage of blood, tissue fluids and circulation in the finger because their normal movement has been disrupted by the force of the injury. Just like cars back up behind a traffic jam, causing congestion, exhaust and overheating; blood and fluids back up behind the injured finger, causing pain, inflammation, lumps and swelling.

The sensation of heat is due to the warming action of the blood and fluids overheating in the injured finger as they back up and accumulate. Stiffness and decreased mobility are due to spasms in tendons and ligaments that have contracted reflexively beyond their normal range from the impact of the injury.

As ligaments and tendons stretch and tear, blood from ruptured blood vessels becomes trapped in the local tissues. As the trapped blood clots up, it sticks the tissues together creating adhesions. Adhesions cause pain, inflammation and restricted movement because the layers of tissue that used to slide smoothly across one another now adhere and snap which interferes with normal functioning. It is essential to break up clotted blood as quickly as possible to prevent adhesions and scar tissue from forming.

During the acute stage it is very important to restore normal circulation to the finger, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, reduce swelling, and reduce the redness and heat associated with inflammation. By restoring the flow of blood, fluids, and circulation in the finger, then pain is relieved, damaged tissues can regenerate with healthy functional tissue, and the finger can strengthen and regain it's mobility.

 

ACUTE STAGE TREATMENT:

 

1. Apply the Sinew Herbal Ice on your finger to reduce redness, swelling, and inflammation while dispersing accumulated blood and fluids to help restore normal circulation to the finger. This first-aid treatment is used in place of ice to significantly speed up the healing process. It reduces the swelling and inflammation more effectively than ice, allowing you to more quickly regain range of motion. Acute Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.

Ice is not recommended because it does not help repair damaged tissues and keeps everything in the injured area frozen, causing the stagnation of blood and fluids and the contraction of muscles, tendons and ligaments. In Chinese sports medicine ice is not used and is considered a culprit in injuries that donít heal well.

2. Massage your finger with Acute Sinew Liniment to relieve pain, reduce swelling and inflammation, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, and stimulate circulation of blood and fluids to help cells quickly repair damaged tissues. Sinew Herbal Ice can be used in-between applications.

3. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.

 

 

CHRONIC STAGE SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

 

This stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel pain, stiffness, weakness, and/or sensitivity in cold and damp weather. If heat makes your pain feel better, then the Chronic Stage Treatment is recommended.


CHRONIC STAGE SYMPTOMS:

 

The chronic stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel aching pain and stiffness. This is because there are still accumulations of stagnant blood and fluids in your finger that are blocking circulation and blood supply to damaged tissues, creating residual pain, stiffness and weakness. You may actually feel hard nodules like sand in the tissue, indicating accumulation, calcification, and adhesions, which all cause pain, stiffness, and joint instability.

Your finger may feel more sensitive to the cold and ache in cold and damp weather due to impaired circulation. When you move your finger you may hear a clicking or popping sound from the tendons and ligaments slipping very slightly in and out of their natural alignment indicating weakness and joint instability, causing chronic pain and a cycle of reinjury. These symptoms are often the result of failure to treat the injury properly from the outset and overicing.

Increasing circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues is very important in treating chronic injuries because tendons and ligaments do not have an extensive direct supply of blood. That is why chronic injuries can be slow to heal. Increasing local circulation also prevents cold and dampness from penetrating the injured area, preventing pain and stiffness.

During the chronic stage it is very important to break up remaining accumulations of blood and fluids, and increase circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues. By increasing circulation and blood flow in the finger, then pain and stiffness is relieved, and the tendons and ligaments can strengthen to restore stability.


CHRONIC STAGE TREATMENT:

 

1. Massage your finger with Chronic Sinew Liniment to relieve pain and stiffness, strongly stimulate circulation and blood flow to damaged tissues, and promote the healing of overstretched tendons and ligaments. The Sinew Relaxing Soak can be used in-between applications.

2. Soak your finger with the Sinew Relaxing Soak to relax muscles and tendons that are in spasm, ease joint pain and stiffness, and improve range of motion. The Sinew Relaxing Soak is particularly useful if you feel restricted mobility in your finger. Chronic Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.

3. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.