Ouch! That Hurt! It sure is irritating when one of the fingers of your hand gets caught in a bent or straight position. It is painful and sometimes the finger takes a while to straighten out and become useful again. The more one tries to straighten it forcefully, the more it begins to hurt. But, why should it happen in the morning, when we need our hands most? And why does it have to happen to the hand that we put to use the most? If you find yourself asking these questions, here’s a useful tip - relax, it will heal soon. This particular condition is called trigger finger and it is a very common phenomenon. It occurs because the sheath that surrounds the tendons, which are bands of inelastic tissue connecting a muscle with its bony attachment, become narrow and contracted. It is a commonly associated with activities that involve repetitive gripping actions or repetitive usage of the fingers. Read on to know more about trigger finger, as in its signs, symptoms and causes.
What is Trigger Finger
Trigger finger is a condition wherein one of the fingers or the thumb gets caught in a bent position. Your finger may straighten with a snap. The snap is similar to a trigger being pulled and released. In severe cases of trigger finger, your finger may become locked in a bent position. Trigger finger most often affects your middle or ring finger or your thumb. In worst cases, more than one finger may also be affected, at the same time.
Signs & Symptoms
Here are some common symptoms of trigger finger:
- Stiff Morning - The finger or fingers may become stiff and get caught in a certain position particularly early in the morning
- Pop and Crack - Every time you move a particular finger or fingers, you will hear a pronounced popping or cracking sound.
- Caught and Bent - The finger or fingers in question might get locked in a certain position, causing pain when you try to move it (them). It (they) might even pop straight all of a sudden, with or without pain.
- Severe - In severe cases, the finger may not starighten at all and cause extreme pain
Causes - Why it Occurs
The bones in the fingers are connected to the muscles in the forearms by tendons, which are bands of inelastic tissues (that connect a muscle with its bony attachment). Fingers too have tendons that connect the muscles in the forearms to the bones in the finger. It is with the help of these tendons that the fingers bend inwards and open up. These tendons are surrounded by tendon sheaths, which are tube-like structures that in turn, are surrounded by a substance called tenosynovium. The tenosynovium releases a lubricating fluid that facilitates the smooth movements of tendons within the tendon sheath, as the fingers are bent and straightened. Trigger finger (also known as stenosing tenosynovitis) occurs when the tendon gets irritated, inflamed or scarred. This condition causes irritation of the tendon sheath and the tenosynovium too. A swollen tendon moves with much difficulty within the tendon sheath, causing a snapping or locking condition of the fingers. It is also contended that an inflammation of the tenosynovium causes narrowing of the tube-like tendon sheath, which affects the movement of fingers.
- Trigger finger occurs most commonly in the dominant hand, i.e., the hand that we put to use the most.
- It occurs most commonly in the morning, when we are most active and especially when we are grasping or picking up things.