Trigger Finger

A few weeks ago I woke up and noticed the middle finger on my left hand was bent as if I was bent playing an F# on the D string. I had to consciously straighten it out, and with that it clicked back open. I bent it again and it stayed in that position until I straightened it out again with that same clicking. By mid morning it was functioning normally again, but the finger remained a bit sore between the two knuckles in the middle of the finger. Over the next few days it subsided. The last few days it is back, and today I noticed it slightly in my right middle finger as well, but to a lesser degree.

I Googled my middle finger locks and found that what I am experiencing is Trigger Finger. Trigger finger is a condition in which one of the fingers gets stuck in a bent position. The finger may bend or straighten with a snap — like a trigger being pulled and released.

Trigger finger is also known as stenosing tenosynovitis (stuh-NO-sing ten-o-sin-o-VIE-tis). It occurs when inflammation narrows the space within the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. If trigger finger is severe, the finger may become locked in a bent position.

People whose work or hobbies require repetitive gripping actions are at higher risk of developing trigger finger. Constantly labeling jars for our home business, a lot of computer work, and playing the fiddle are three strikes against me when it comes to developing trigger finger. I also just found out in a Thanksgiving Day call to my brother that my mother suffered from trigger finger; it can run in families, as well.

I wasn’t planning to post about it until I read how common this condition is, especially in older folks and people who play the violin.

Here is a brief, but very good, video describing trigger finger.

Conservative noninvasive treatments include:

  • Rest: Avoid activities that require repetitive gripping, repeated grasping until symptoms improve.
  • A splint: A doctor can prescribe a splint to be worn at night to keep the affected finger in an extended position. The splint helps rest the tendon. A splint can also be purchased without a prescription.
  • Stretching exercises: Gentle exercises can help maintain mobility in the finger.

If these treatments fail, the next steps are more invasive and include:

  • Steroid injection: This may reduce inflammation and allow the tendon to glide freely again, but the results seldom last more than a year.
  • Percutaneous release: With the hand numbed, the Doctor inserts a sturdy needle into the tissue around the affected tendon and breaks apart the constriction.
  • Surgery: The most extreme treatment, the Doctor can cut open the constricted section of tendon sheath.

Wanting to get the upper hand (pun intended) on this, I ordered two splints, one to wear during the day that will allow flexibility and one to wear at night that will immobilize and relax the tendon.

I am also starting some gentle stretching exercises I found on Healthline.com: 11 Trigger Finger Exercises to Try at Home. These are simple exercises that can be done anywhere. Many of these exercises are ones I have already posted about in several earlier posts about hand problems (see Overcoming Obstacles), but I will admit, I do get lax in keeping up these routines. Perhaps avoiding trigger finger is just another reason to get back into my hand flexibility routine.

  5 comments for “Trigger Finger

  1. Pops
    December 7, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Ouch, that can hurt. I had it a few years back. After wearing a splint for a while, I finally got a cortisone shot. Hasn’t bothered me since. I can see how that would put a real dent in your practice. Hope it doesn’t last long for you.

    • MoonShadows
      December 7, 2019 at 12:51 pm

      @pops

      Thanks. I haven’t practiced in a few days. I tried today but stopped after a few minutes. It hurts to press a string down with that finger, and I figure I should try not to aggravate it anymore than it is already.

  2. MoonShadows
    December 5, 2019 at 4:15 am

    Yesterday I woke up and the finger was worse! But, the day before I had to do a lot of jar labeling for my business which involves a lot of repetitive movement. Still wearing the splints, but I wasn’t able to practice yesterday, nor do I think I will be able to practice today. It’s sore and stiff. I cancelled my lesson for Saturday since I don’t know how I’ll be then.

  3. December 2, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    Wow. Who knew? I didn’t. Hope this clears up for you with the less invasive measures you are taking.

    • December 3, 2019 at 5:34 am

      Thanks, Sue. It’s eased off the past few days, and I can practice. The splints arrived in the mail yesterday, so I’ve started wearing them. Hopefully, they will help. I did find out from my brother that my mother suffered from trigger finger also. I read it can run in families.

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