Trigger fingers are trouble. When triggering starts, it may show up as a soreness at the base of the finger after a repetitive gripping activity. Sometimes that soreness lasts long after the activity is over or shows up the next morning. The soreness may come with visible swelling or thickness at the palm just under the finger. In more severe cases, the finger gets caught in a bent position and causes a click when it finally extends. Those clicks can be painful! If the condition gets worse, the finger may actually get stuck in the bent position and require a push and shove to stretch it back out.
Let’s talk about why the triggering happens.
The key structure is the flexor tendon of the finger as it passes from the finger into the palm and then toward the wrist. In order to hold the tendon against the bone (and protect the efficiency of the pull force) the tendon passes underneath a system of pulleys. The pulleys hold pretty tight to the tendon and are relatively inflexible. If there is any swelling in the finger or the palm, the tendons can swell too and cause the tendon to grind through the pulley rather than slide. That grinding causes more friction which then causes more swelling.
Activities that require sustained or repetitive tight gripping can cause acute swelling and lead to trigger fingers. However, trigger fingers may also be related to chronic health conditions like diabetes mellitus or rheumatoid arthritis.
If you feel like you’ve got a triggering finger, be sure to reach out to a hand specialist to learn how to reduce the strain, improve comfort, and change up your activities to reduce the risk. Therapy can make a big difference in whether acute swelling turns into a chronic injury.
Check us out on PT&Me.com for more information about what we can treat. Therapy makes the difference!
Leversedge, F., & Rohde, R. Trigger finger. OrthoInfo.Retrieved April 1, 2021 from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/trigger-finger
Nazario, B. Trigger finger. WebMD August 24, 2020. Retrieved April 1, 2021 from https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/trigger-finger