Bent out of shape
Each finger in the hand has a tendon that gives the finger flexibility. Each tendon glides through a sheath when the finger bends. This creates a motion similar to a pulley. With overuse, tendons become inflamed. These swollen tendons get stuck in the sheaths, making extending the finger painful. In severe cases, the tendon becomes so sore, the finger stays in a bent, trigger-like position. The condition is common on the index finger but can happen on any digit, including the thumb. Trigger finger is also common in people with diabetes. The condition causes serious swelling, pain, and discomfort and prevents the simplest of tasks.
Effective non-surgical options
Fingers are important in every task. So a trigger finger becomes a painful inconvenience. At this point, persons with the condition have two choices. The first step is to let the finger heal naturally. There are a few non-surgical options to help, as well. Oral or topical anti-inflammatory medicine help reduce swelling and pain. Doctors also recommend a nighttime splint to keep the finger in a natural position. Physical therapy exercises also provide excellent relief and restoration. In serious cases, a doctor may use a cortisol injection to help the trigger finger heal. Research has shown more than 50% of trigger finger conditions heal without surgery.
Gung-ho with surgery
If the affected finger can no longer extend, surgery can restore much-needed flexibility. Open release surgery is a simple outpatient procedure commonly used for trigger finger. Using a small incision, surgeons can enter and create space for the tendon. Almost immediately after the procedure, patients can start bending the finger to restore flexibility. Trigger finger surgery heals in about 4 weeks with excellent results. Studies show that surgery has over a 90% success rate. Despite the success, doctors will take all steps to restore the finger first without surgery.
So what should I do?
Getting informed is the best way to make a decision on surgery. Doctors can assess the extent of tendonitis and suggest the right procedure. Extensive pain and discomfort and a finger that can’t move may need surgery. If the issue is manageable with proper care, trigger fingers will heal naturally. Try all options to manage pain and restore flexibility first. If all else fails, speak with a surgeon for the next steps.