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Taipei City Hospital

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The Problem with Trigger Fingers

       “Doctor, my finger is bent and it’s stuck that way, it hurts and it snaps when I pull it straight, sometimes I even need my other hand to help pull it free! It’s really bothering me!” Complaints like there are commonly heard in the outpatient clinic; so what is “trigger finger”? And what do you do about it?

       Trigger finger is a condition in which repetitive use of the finger results in increased friction between the tendon and tendon sheath, causing inflammation and swelling and which narrows the space for tendon movement. This results in limited finger movement for the affected individual and brings many inconveniences. Trigger finger commonly affects people whose daily routines or occupations require repetitive use of fingers, such as housewives, factory operators, hairstylists, piano instructors and consumer electronics users. Clinically, trigger fingers share many of the same joint swollen and stiffness conditions like arthritis or autoimmune diseases, so it is commonly diagnosed by musculoskeletal ultrasound evaluation.

       Treatment for trigger finger include ample resting and avoiding activities that require excessive gripping and grasping; moderate stretching exercises can also help recovery. Patients can perform these exercises with thermal compression and ultrasound physiotherapy. If the pain is unbearable, patients may be prescribed with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to inhibit inflammation, or topical injection with steroids at affected areas. If these conservative treatments do not improve the condition, patients may opt to undergo procedures such as percutaneous release or surgery, however the issue of post-procedure recovery should be considered in advance.