Trigger Finger – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

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The number of Trigger Finger cases continue to rise in a society bombarded with techno-gadgets like cell phones, video games, computers and personal data devices; all which cause extensive overuse of the finger flexors and the resulting injury.  

Although the medical industry would like to sell a story of disease, Trigger Finger most results from over-development or micro-tears affecting the flexor tendon, causing excessive scar-tissue buildup that creates a nodule or adhesion on the tendon of the involved finger(s). Because the cause of Trigger Finger involves the soft-tissues, they can most often be corrected with simple exercises and stretches.  In cases where Trigger Finger was caused by micro-tears of the flexor tendon as a result of direct trauma to the finger (falling), or a case of overuse where portions of the flexor tendon has enlarged due to excessive use in one-way (unidirectional) movements resulting from typing, holding onto objects and text messaging; it is possible to completely avoid painful surgery by implementing simple, conservative therapy.

The initial symptoms of Trigger Finger / Thumb usually begin with a slight swollen sensation and “skipping / snapping” of the affected finger as it is flexed towards the palm of the hand and again as it is straightened.  In less acute cases like this, the symptoms are mild and the individual may only experience annoying “skipping / snapping” of the tendon, but with no real pain.  In more severe cases, the “skipping / snapping” sensation elevates to a “popping / locking” sensation where the effected finger may completely lock into the palm of the hand as the nodule on the tendon becomes stuck in the pulley system of the finger, and may have to be straightened with the opposing hand.  The affected finger also “snaps / jerks” back into extension (straight) and is usually characterized by extreme pain, preventing many sufferers from performing simple everyday tasks. Some individuals suffer with the condition for months or even years, causing long-term damage to the affected tendon(s), preventing themselves from enjoying work and recreational activities. 

Unlike muscle imbalances that are fairly easily to eliminate, Trigger Finger needs to be addressed at onset to initiate the breakdown of the nodule that has formed on the tendon, or the thinning of the segments of the flexor tendon that have become enlarged.  Expediency is necessary to achieve a more successful outcome, no matter what the treatment is.  Although surgery is one of the most prevalent procedures performed, it is important to understand the full range of interventions that are available to treat Trigger Finger.

If symptoms are mild, rest is usually the first thing a doctor would recommend.  If the signs are elevated, a splint or a cortisone injection may be recommended.  These types of treatment are more invasive and tend to have mixed results. If the patient opts for a cortisone injection, they need to be prepared to come back for more injections, which is not good as it leads to degeneration of the affected tendon and can cause serious, irreversible damage, as cortisone is designed to treat acute pain and it is not meant to be a long-lasting solution.

For these reasons, many people consider surgery for Trigger Finger, but surgery is the most invasive technique available and has poor success for providing the patient with long-term relief.  Surgery is designed to broaden tendon sheath so that the tendon can move through the sheath and associated pulley system without getting stuck.  However, pain and swelling from the surgical procedure can persist for months and obtaining the strength and dexterity that existed before the injury can take years.  Often it is reported that patients experience more problems after the surgery.  The reason for this outcome is most likely due to the fact that surgery does not address the nodules on the tendon, but instead attempts to make room so that the nodules can pass through the pulley system without catching and locking, but cutting into the tendon sheath causes the formation of more scar tissue, which overtime blocks the passing of the tendon through the tendon sheath and the symptoms return.

The most successful approach to correcting Trigger Finger is the use of conservative therapy that focuses on the use of active exercises and stretches that target the muscles and tendons of the affected finger.  The exercises performed by rehabilitation devices like Flextend, Restore and others can help eliminate the condition by reducing the nodule or thickening of the affected tendon, allowing it to move freely without any more “catching / locking” of the affected finger.

Contact www.repetitive-strain.com to learn more about a unique training system shown to have 90 percent success in reducing symptoms in as little as 4 weeks.

 

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