Trigger Finger / Trigger Thumb
Trigger finger or trigger thumb is an often painful condition in which a finger or thumb sticks in the flexed position. This catching occurs at the base of the finger/thumb when the flexor tendon becomes inflamed and swollen and can not move through the guiding pulley smoothly. Trigger finger occurs most often in the dominent hand and is more noticable in the morning when the finger has stiffed overnight. It is called "trigger" because the finger/thumb snaps out of the bent position similar to a trigger being released.
Flexor tendons of the wrist and hand run through the inner wrist and along the palm of the hand connecting the flexor muscles in the forearm to the finger bones. The muscles pull on the tendons which cause the fingers to bend, or flex. The flexor tendons run through a series of pulleys that form tunnels along the fingers and thumb. They work similar to a line guided along a fishing rod, with the pulleys holding the tendons close to the finger bones. These tendons are made up of tissue called collagen and elastin, making them both tough and flexible.
Flexor tendons run through tendon shealths to allow for easier movement. Between each tendon and shealth lies a synovium, or synovial membrane, which lubricates the tendon allowing for smooth gliding through the sheath. When the tendons become irritated and inflamed, their ability to glide within these compartments is restricted. This causes wrist and hand pain during movement and tenderness when direct pressure is applied. When the flexor tendons are inflamed it is referred to as flexor tendinitis, also spelled tendonitis.
Tendinitis usually begins with tiny tears in the tendon fibers which can tear apart in much the same way a rope becomes frayed. Once a tendon becomes frayed, an inflammatory response is triggered; over time an inflamed tendon can become thick, bumpy and irregular making it more difficult to glide during hand movements. This can cause the finger or thumb to catch or stick when the finger is flexed making it difficult to straighten or bend.
As flexor tendinitis worsens, a bump (nodule) may also form on the tendon. This nodule can become too large to easily move through the pulley that holds the tendon to the bone. When you flex your finger, the tendon tries to move through the pulley but the nodule catches at the front of the joint causing the finger to stick at the base of the finger. When the tendon catches, more inflammation and swelling occurs creating a cycle of tendon damage and locking finger movements. Unfortunately, with tendinitis and recurring damage scar tissue builds on the tendon or in the sheath. This tissue is tough and fibrous and can join the tendon to the inside of the sheath, causing pain and limiting movement. Scar tissue build up also thickens the tendon and sheath causing difficulties as it tries to move through the pulley.
Causes of Trigger Finger
If tendons are stressed enough from excessive or unconditioned use, the sheath lining can become inflamed and movements may be painful as the tendons glide through the inflamed sheath.
Activities with frequent finger movement, such as typing and sewing, can also cause overuse of the tendons resulting in finger pain.
Some people are predisposed to flexor tendinitis if their body has a tendency to collect fluid around the tendons and joints. This can occur with conditions such as rheumatoid arhtritis, diabetes, and gout.
Trigger Finger Symptoms
If you are suffering from tendinitis in the flexor tendons you may experience one or all of the following symptoms:
- Initially you may experience soreness at the base of the thumb or finger
- A popping or clicking feeling when you move the affected thumb or finger
- Stiffness and loss of flexibility in the finger, particularly in the morning
- Locking of the finger when bent that suddenly pops out straight or cannot be straightened
- Swelling and tenderness where the tendon inserts at the finger
- The middle knuckle may catch as well since the flexor tendon also controls the joint
- Pain when bending your finger against resistance
To treat trigger finger, the goal is to reduce swelling and scar tissue on the affected flexor tendon and its sheath to stop the tendon from catching. Cold compression therapy and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ treatments are the most effective non-surgical method to treat the pain, swelling, inflammation, and scar tissue build up caused by trigger finger.
If non-invasive methods are ineffective at relieving symptoms, surgery may be required. Trigger finger surgery entails cutting the pulley at the base of the finger and the shealth to allow the tendon to glide easily again. At present the results of finger tendon surgery are far from ideal, as excess scar tissue (adhesions)can form between the sheath and the tendon, restricting mobility and leading to a loss of function. If surgery is required, including ultrasound therapy as part of your rehabilitation program will vastly improve the range of motion in your finger or thumb.
Treating Your Wrist Tendon
The trick with any tendon injury is getting it to heal with minimal scar tissue formation and with as much realignment of the tendon fibres as possible. Even with optimum healing, there is always less elasticity in a previously injured tendon. This will cause the tendon to hurt, during everyday activities. If you heal your injury efficiently and quickly, your chance of re-injury later on is much lower than average.
Allowing your tendon to rest is always recommended following injury. Try to avoid grasping, wringing, twisting and pinching or any other activities that may have caused the injury or irritation and begin cold compression treatments as soon as possible. The tendons in the thumbs and fingers are difficult to rest completely as they are essential for daily chores and activities.
Fortunately, there are healing tools that can help treat your tendons and speed up the healing process so you can get back to a life without pain and risk of further injury. Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®) promotes blood flow to heal your tendon faster and more completely which means less scar tissue formation and greater elasticity in the tissue.
Although steroid injections may provide temporary relief from the pain of tendinitis and tenosynovitis, multiple injections should be avoided as they weaken the tendon and may lead to a rupture.
Freezie Wrap® Cold Compression Therapy
Doctors recommend using cold compression as soon as possible following an acute tendon injury and re-injury to reduce pain and swelling and minimize tissue damage.
The Wrist Freezie Wrap® allows you to treat your tendon in an effective and convenient way. The wrap is versatile with Velcro attachments so you can wrap it around your hand, wrist or forearm where you need it. It's adjustable which allows you to control the compression to your comfort level.
Designed with ColdCure Technology®, the gel packs are chilled in the fridge not the freezer. This eliminates the risk of cryoburn, or 'cold burns', on your skin that can be cause by ice and strandard freezer gel packs. You can also wear the Freezie Wrap® for longer treatments so you can enjoy even more relief from your wrist or thumb pain!
Cold Compression Therapy works by interrupting and slowing nerve and cell function in the injured area and reducing swelling that can block blood vessels. This is important because once blood vessels are blocked or damaged, they can no longer carry oxygenated blood to the tendon and tissue cells begin to break-down. Without cold compression therapy cellular break-down and tissue damage continues as the cells do not get the oxygen they need to survive. By limiting the amount of damage done to your tendon, you also limit the amount of healing that needs to occur. This is a very important step to heal your tendon faster and with less pain!
The deep cooling effect provided by the Wrist Freezie Wrap® gives you the fast, effective relief your sore tendon has been looking for!
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Inferno Wrap® Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™
After the inflammation and swelling is gone you can begin to treat your tendon with Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®). BFST® increases the amount of blood that flows naturally to your wrist to nourish your tendons and ligaments to speed healing.
Tendons receive a limited blood supply by nature and this significantly reduces the ability to heal.
By treating your tendon with BFST® you can increase your body's blood supply to the wrist and increase your body's natural healing power. In addition, the fresh blood flow whisks away dead cells and toxins that have built up from the injury leaving the area clean and able to heal faster. Our Wrist Inferno Wrap® provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief and healing with no side effects.
Click Here to learn more about how Inferno Wrap® BFST® works
With these easy-to-use, home therapies you will notice incredible improvement in the health and flexibility and reduced daily pain in your wrist. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results!
Please be aware that this information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.