July 7, 2023
If you wake up with stiff joints, particularly in your hands, you may assume it’s due to age. However, a recent study has shown that women in their 50s are more susceptible to arthritis and joint pain, including trigger fingers than men. I can provide some helpful tips to prevent a trigger finger or assist you in taking care of one if you currently have it.
We understand that the information provided can be overwhelming. If you need further support and answers, you can schedule a free consultation with our Trigger Finger Specialist, Satoru Ozawa. You can share your story, ask any questions you may have, and discover how you can achieve a healthy life.
Do you experience pain and inflammation in your finger when trying to move it? This could be a result of a trigger finger, a condition that affects the tendon in the hand. The Flexor Digitorums muscle, which connects the forearm to the fingers, contracts and pulls towards the origin to allow for smooth fist movement. Each tendon is also surrounded by a membrane, similar to a sword scabbard, known as a tendon sheath.
The tendon sheath is made up of connective tissue and secretes a lubricating substance that safeguards tendons against friction damage. In cases of a trigger finger, either the tendons or the tendon sheath become inflamed or swollen, obstructing the tendons’ movement and causing the finger to become stuck in one position or causing pain when attempting to move the finger.
Classic Trigger finger is a common condition that can be caused by trauma, dysfunction, or the growth of nodules at the base of the finger or thumb.
Trigger fingers that occur throughout the body are often associated with systemic conditions such as diabetes or gout.
Based on current research, individuals who frequently use their thumb and fingers to grasp objects or tools have a higher likelihood of developing trigger fingers compared to those who do not engage in such activities.
When a trigger finger occurs, there are typically five noticeable symptoms that present with the affected fingers becoming locked.
In the early stages of trigger fingers, you may experience stiffness in your fingers, especially in the morning. Many people describe this sensation as their hand needing to “wake up,” “warm up,” or “get the blood flowing.” This is a telltale sign of trigger fingers.
Once you experience morning stiffness, you may soon notice that your finger starts to pop or click when you move it. You might feel this sensation or even hear the sound as you move your finger.
If a loud sound is made with the finger, tenderness may arise at its base, along with a small bump or nodule.
*If you notice a bump or nodule in the central area of your palm, it could be a sign of Dupuytren’s Contracture, which differs from a typical trigger finger. It is essential to note that this condition is not caused by tendon inflammation like a trigger finger.
Dupuytren’s Contracture is a medical condition that results in the bending of fingers towards the palm due to the growth of a benign lump in the connective tissue of the hand. The underlying cause of this condition is currently unknown, but it is often linked to diabetes and epilepsy. Additionally, individuals who struggle with alcoholism may be more susceptible to developing this condition.
If you experience clicking and popping sensations in your finger, you may notice that it starts to catch or lock in a bent position from time to time, making it hard to straighten it out again. This occurs when the swollen tendon becomes trapped inside its tendon sheath and suddenly pops back into place, causing sharp pain.
In the final stage, the finger becomes immobilized for several hours and eventually days, until it can no longer move at all. This usually happens when attempting to grasp an item, and upon releasing the grip, the finger remains in a bent position.
While steroid injections can effectively resolve 86% of trigger finger cases, there are alternative options that can be done at home before resorting to such a treatment. By taking proactive measures, you can potentially avoid the discomfort of a needle injection.
In order to improve the smoothness of finger movements, it is beneficial to engage in strengthening and stretching exercises. These activities can help with opening and closing the fist, as well as wiggling the fingers with greater ease.
A helpful exercise could involve gently stretching the affected finger by pulling it back towards the wrist and holding it for a few seconds before releasing.
Secondly, start with isometric exercise, which is no resistance & no movement.
Performing this exercise can improve your extensor muscles’ strength and stretch your flexor tendons. This can aid in breaking down adhesions at the base of your trigger finger.
Finally, it’s common to experience a trigger finger from overusing your flexor muscles. To relieve the tightness in these muscles, activating the extensor muscles on the dorsal side of your hand is essential. Remember that your hand’s palmer and dorsal sides have an agonist-antagonist relationship.
*Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before attempting new exercises to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your specific condition.
Heat therapy aims to soften the affected tissues and increase the blood flow to heal quicker.
A hot bath is a simple and cost-effective method to relieve the trigger finger. Immersing your hand in warm water for 20 minutes daily can help relax the tendons and reduce inflammation, resulting in a smoother joint.
A hand warmer pack is a valuable technique to warm up a locked finger. Portable heat packs are readily available, allowing for easy application. Consistent warming of the affected tissue can speed up the recovery process.
Self-massaging also enhances blood flow to the affected area, and this will help to lubricate the joint and release the tension from the affected muscle and tendon.
According to various studies, acupuncture has been found to effectively alleviate inflammation and pain. Acupuncture aims to achieve balance in the body’s “Qi” or energy flow, along the pathways outlined by traditional oriental medicine.
Did you know our joints have a protective membrane called the synovium that produces synovial fluid? This fluid acts as a lubricant, similar to raw egg whites, to prevent friction damage. The thickness of the synovial fluid is dependent on the level of hydration in your bloodstream. When you are dehydrated, the lack of hydration can cause the synovial fluid to become thicker, resulting in clogged tissue within the joints. This can lead to unsmooth joint movement and trigger the finger.
Yes. Acupuncture is very effective for the trigger finger. We examined your finger and muscle tightness during the initial acupuncture session. You may be unable to move your finger smoothly due to pain. The treatments focused on reducing inflammation and swelling and restoring movement in the finger. Acupuncture has been shown in many studies to be incredibly practical in reducing pain and inflammation due to its ability to stimulate the body to release its natural painkillers. So, you start feeling relieved from the pain after each session.
As a general rule of thumb, the sooner one receives treatment, the better the prognosis.
Some patients come for trigger finger treatment months after the initial onset, and these chronic cases are often more complex and take much longer to achieve results. Even then, recovery is not guaranteed.
Regarding the frequency of treatments, Acupuncture follows a simple rule. Acute and relatively new conditions are most effectively treated with more frequent visits, whereas chronic and old conditions can benefit from more widespread treatments.
In other words, if you just had an onset of trigger finger, you will probably be prescribed 2-3 treatments per week to get the most effective results, and chronic cases will generally come in only once a week.
If you or a loved one was diagnosed with a trigger finger and want to learn more about Acupuncture and whether it’s appropriate for your case, send us a message through our contact page. I hope it helps.
Satoru Ozawa, L.Ac, ATC
We understand this can be a lot of information and overwhelming: if you are looking for more support and answers, set up a free consultation with our Trigger Finger Specialist, Satoru Ozawa. Share your story, get your questions answered, and learn how you can set yourself up for tremendous success in achieving a healthy life.
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