What Might Cause Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger is an interesting-sounding term that describes discomfort and locking in one or more fingers. This condition often affects the ring or middle finger but may also occur in the thumb. Here, we discuss how trigger finger may develop and what might be done to minimize pain.

In the fingers, there are tendons that attach the muscles to the bones. These tendons pass through several tunnels called pulleys or tendon sheaths. Usually, the tendon in a finger has no issue gliding right on through these passageways because there is a relatively smooth lining within the tunnel. Trouble may develop when the tendon sheath situated at the base of the finger becomes irritated. Specific activities, such as gaming or texting, can cause inflammation within the tunnel, leading to thickening that narrows the opening through which the tendon must travel.

How to Minimize Painful Trigger Finger

The symptoms of trigger finger or thumb can feel much more alarming than they really are. In many cases, the inflammation that has developed is the body’s way of asking for a break. If you type or text a lot, curb your activity as much as possible for a few days. In addition to rest, symptoms may improve with:

  • Cold packs applied to the finger
  • Gentle hand massage
  • Stretching the hands, fingers, and wrists
  • Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication like Advil

Depending on the severity of locking and discomfort, a doctor may prescribe a finger or thumb splint, prescription medication, or cortisone shots to reduce inflammation quickly.

What Causes Trigger Finger?

There doesn’t seem to be a singular factor that leads to a trigger finger or thumb. Many cases point to overuse. For example, the more we have come to rely on smartphones for communication and entertainment, the more thumb locking and pain has been reported. But not everyone who texts and scrolls gets trigger finger or thumb. What gives?

Researchers believe that there may be a few underlying causes that make some people more susceptible to this problem than others. For example, older individuals may develop trigger finger more easily because the aging process wears down tendons and muscles. This condition also seems to affect more women than men. Diabetes could increase the chances of trigger finger due to the systemic inflammation and thickening of connective tissues that coincides with elevated blood sugar levels.

Schedule a Consultation

If rest is not alleviating symptoms of trigger finger or thumb, contact Advanced Orthopedic and Hand Surgery Institute in New Jersey by calling (973) 942-1315. We’re happy to discuss treatment options to restore comfort and mobility.

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