Trigger finger, also known as sclerosing tenosynovitis, is a condition of tendon irritation. Oftentimes patients complain of pain in their fingers or palm, and clicking or locking of their fingers as they try to make a fist and/or open up their hands.
Trigger finger is frequently caused by overuse of the hands, particularly where repetitive gripping or finger motion are involved. Typing, using a computer mouse, keying on a Blackberry, or grasping objects over and over again may cause the flexor tendons of the fingers to swell. Normally, the flexor tendons of the fingers pass through narrow tunnels, called pulleys, in the fingers. These tunnels exist for reasons of mechanical advantage. Naturally, the tolerances between tendon and tunnel wall are very tight. Thus, when swollen, the flexor tendons then get stuck while trying to slide through the pulleys.
You may experience symptoms such as a clicking sensation in a finger when trying to make a fist. Sometimes this is accompanied by pain, either in the palm where the finger joins the hand, or further out by in one of the small joints of the individual digit. In more advanced cases, a finger may “lock” in a flexed position, and require assistance to straighten back out.
Initial treatment involves steroid injections, which act as concentrated dosages of anti-inflammatory medicine delivered directly to the site of maximal tendon swelling in the palm/base of the finger. Sometimes more than one injection may be required. This is effective for about 70% of those afflicted with a trigger finger. For those cases where triggering persists despite a trial of steroid injections, a simple surgical release of the constrictive tendon sheath resolves the triggering permanently.