Trigger Finger Reaching Epidemic Proportions in 2007 By Staff Writer

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Repetitive strain injuries, including the most recognizable disorder known as carpal tunnel syndrome, are still here in the 2007 despite the so-called “ergonomic age”.

Gaining in prevalence in the early 90’s, carpal tunnel syndrome was continually devastating workers in offices and assembly lines all across America.  The implementation of the newest and latest ergonomic gadgets was supposed to eliminate the carpal tunnel syndrome epidemic, or at the least, greatly reduce its ever-rising statistics.  Not so.  It is now 2007 and government and private business are still paying 100 billion annually to combat this terrible disorder.

With carpal tunnel syndrome still plaguing the ranks, another disorder is on the rise to add to the ever-increasing costs of the effects associated with repetitive strain injuries.  This latest problem is Trigger Finger.  No, it is certainly not new, but is afflicting millions of people each year and costing billions of dollars to address.  So what causes Trigger Finger and how can it be stopped?

The most common causes of Trigger Finger involve direct trauma overuse, with symptoms ranging from a painless annoyance with occasional snapping/jerking of the finger(s), to severe dysfunction and pain with continuous locking of the finger(s) in a flexed downward position into the palm of the hand.  Most often this “locking” occurs at the base MP (metaphalangeal) joint.   It may also affect the middle and distal joints, casing the finger to “bow”, which can be forced into a straight position if pressure is applied directly to the joint. 

Trigger Finger and Trigger Thumb are most often treated with cortisone injections and surgery although there are more successful means of treatment utilizing simples stretches and exercises to help thin the tendon(s) and break down the adhesions or nodules that have formed on the tendon.   If the appropriate stretches and exercises are applied, the adhesions and/or scar tissue will reduce greatly, eliminating the “catching” of the nodule as it passes through the finger’s pulley system.  It is also possible that the stretching of the flexor tendon may cause it to become thinner, thus allowing the adhesion or scar tissue nodule to pass through the pulley system with greater ease without catching.

So the question is, how can different forms of repetitive strain injury continue to rise with all of these ergonomic devices being used in manufacturing, assembly, office stations and every other known location where a human may be present?  The reason is that although ergonomic equipment may help reduce the strain of work, it does not take the “work” out of work!  It is really that simple.  The person still has to work, therefore causing increased chances of a muscle imbalance developing.

Repeating tasks over and over causes one muscle group to become overused and tight while the opposing muscle group becomes underused and weak.  Overuse can create hypoxia, areas of spasm or micro-tears in the muscle tissue, thus causing scarring and nodules / adhesions to form.  Under-use of the muscle can create weakness and instability, thus increasing the chances of trauma and again increased development of scar tissue due to the formation of micro tears within the muscles as they are subjected to tensile strain or acute trauma from sudden jarring or impact.

The solution is muscle-balancing techniques through stretching and exercising in order to create equality of muscle and tendon length and strength, thus reducing the chances of tendon thickening or scarring and formation of nodules and adhesions.   Creating balance within the body’s soft-tissues creates overall physical stability and reduces the chances of developing a repetitive strain injury.

Get smart and take your heath into your hands…literally!