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Unlocking The Mystery Of Trigger Finger – Causes, Anatomy, And Proactive Prevention Strategies

Written by: Vijay Muni, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Vijay Muni

Have you ever experienced a sudden, painful catching or locking sensation in your fingers when you try to bend or straighten them? If so, you might be dealing with a condition known as trigger finger. Trigger finger, medically referred to as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a common hand condition that can cause discomfort and limit the range of motion in your fingers. In this blog post, we'll delve into the anatomy of the trigger finger, its causes, and how you can prevent it from becoming a persistent problem.

Person right hand

Anatomy of the finger

Before we explore the trigger finger in-depth, it's essential to understand the anatomy of the finger. Your fingers comprise bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, all working together to facilitate intricate movements. When you flex or extend your fingers, tendons glide smoothly through tendon sheaths, allowing for a full range of motion.


What is trigger finger?

A trigger finger occurs when the tendons that control the movement of your fingers become inflamed or irritated. These tendons slide through tunnels called sheaths. When the sheaths become narrowed or swollen, it can lead to the tendons getting stuck, causing the finger to snap or lock when you try to move it. This snapping or locking is what gives the condition its peculiar name.

illustration of human finger

(Photo from the Mayo Clinic)


Causes of trigger finger

Several factors can contribute to the development of the trigger finger. Understanding these causes can help you take preventive measures:

  • Repetitive Hand Movements: Frequent and repetitive hand and finger movements, such as gripping tools or typing, can strain the tendons, increasing the risk of a trigger finger.

  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout are associated with a higher risk of trigger finger.

  • Age and Gender: Trigger finger is more common in women and tends to affect individuals between 40 and 60.

  • Trauma: Finger injuries or trauma can lead to trigger fingers if they cause inflammation in the tendons.

  • Anatomical Factors: Sometimes, the anatomy of your hand can make you more susceptible to trigger fingers.


Preventing trigger finger


While trigger finger can be uncomfortable, there are steps you can take to prevent it or manage its symptoms:

  • Ergonomics: If your job involves repetitive hand movements, ensure your workspace is ergonomically designed to reduce the strain on your hand.

  • Hand Exercises: Perform hand and finger exercises to maintain flexibility and strength and prevent trigger fingers by reducing the strain on your tendons. Please check out Empire City Occupational Therapy’s YouTube channel on exercises to perform for a trigger finger.

  • Rest: Allow your fingers to rest and recover after activities that involve repetitive finger motions.

  • Orthotics/Splints: Consult your local occupational therapist (OT) or certified hand therapist (CHT) for a custom orthosis or purchase OTC splints to prevent trigger fingers. Please use my affiliate link to buy these splints:


I recommend wearing these splints at night to prevent your fingers from bending while sleeping. During the day, I recommend using a band aid. Using a band aid will prevent your finger from fully gripping which will reduce tension on your tendon. Please see below:

A photo of hands with band aid.
  • Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Managing underlying health conditions like diabetes and arthritis can reduce your risk of developing a trigger finger.


Avoid gripping too tightly

  1. Be mindful of how tightly you grip objects.

  2. Avoid excessive force when using tools or engaging in sports.

  3. Use tools and equipment that are comfortable and fit your hand correctly. You may want to use larger handles and prevent full gripping to avoid stressing your hand.


Conclusion

Understanding the anatomy, causes, and prevention of trigger fingers can help you maintain healthy and functional hands. If you experience persistent symptoms of trigger finger, consult a board-certified hand surgeon here or your local CHT/OT for proper diagnosis and treatment options. Taking preventive measures and caring for your hands can reduce the risk of developing this uncomfortable condition and help you enjoy a pain-free, active life.


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Vijay Muni Brainz Magazine
 

Vijay Muni, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Vijay Muni is an experienced occupational therapist specializing in outpatient orthopedics, stroke rehabilitation, fall prevention, and chronic pain management. His approach to occupational therapy is empathetic and collaborative, actively involving clients in their rehabilitation journey to achieve meaningful outcomes. Through evidence-based practices, Vijay empowers clients to overcome obstacles, fostering confidence and achievement. He founded Empire City Occupational Therapy PLLC to provide accessible rehabilitation and help you be the best version of yourself. For more home exercises and valuable content, visit Empire City OT on YouTube.

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