Hand and Wrist
Trigger Digit Release
What it is
Trigger finger limits finger movement. When you try to straighten your finger, it will lock or catch before popping out straight. Trigger finger is a condition that affects the tendons in your fingers or thumb. The flexor tendon can become irritated as it slides through the tendon sheath tunnel. As it becomes more and more irritated, the tendon may thicken and nodules may form, making its passage through the tunnel more difficult. The tendon sheath may also thicken, causing the opening of the tunnel to become smaller. If you have trigger finger, the tendon becomes momentarily stuck at the mouth of the tendon sheath tunnel when you try to straighten your finger. You might feel a pop as the tendon slips through the tight area and your finger will suddenly shoot straight out. The thickened nodule on the flexor tendon strikes the sheath tunnel, making it difficult to straighten the finger.
Symptoms of trigger finger usually start without any injury, although they may follow a period of heavy hand use. Symptoms may include: A tender lump in your palm Swelling Catching or popping sensation in your finger or thumb joints Pain when bending or straightening your finger Stiffness and catching tend to be worse after inactivity, such as when you wake in the morning. Your fingers will often loosen up as you move them. Sometimes, when the tendon breaks free, it may feel like your finger joint is dislocating. In severe cases of trigger finger, the finger cannot be straightened, even with help. Sometimes, one or more fingers are affected.
The goal of surgery is to widen the opening of the tunnel so that the tendon can slide through it more easily. This is usually done on an outpatient basis, meaning you will not need to stay overnight at the hospital. Most people are given an injection of general anesthesia but in special circumstances the patient is given local anesthesia to numb the hand for the procedure. The surgery is performed through a small incision in the palm or sometimes with the tip of a needle. The tendon sheath tunnel is cut. When it heals back together, the sheath is looser and the tendon has more room to move through it.