The trigger finger

Dr. Joseph Gower, Seaview Orthopaedics
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Dr. Joseph Gower, Seaview Orthopaedics

One of the more common conditions that bring people to the hand surgeon is a condition known as trigger finger. Pain in the palm of your hand, stiffness when bending your fingers, or a click/pop when attempting to bend your fingers and thumb may be symptoms of trigger finger (or trigger thumb). In severe cases, the finger locks and becomes stuck in a bent position –causing some people to use their other hand to straighten the triggered finger.

Many people are likely to experience symptoms of a trigger finger at some point in their life. Those with diabetes or inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are at a higher risk of developing this condition. Initially, your symptoms may simply be pain in the palm of your hand. Some patients experience clicking and locking with only mild pain; most people experience a little bit of both. Gradually, if not treated, a triggering finger or thumb may worsen and become functionally problematic.

Treatment for this condition can initially include rest, activity modification and splinting. A steroid injection, when given soon after the onset of symptoms, may help relieve your symptoms and decrease the course of the condition. Sometimes, patients may need more than one injection, usually spaced out about 4-6 weeks apart, as part of their treatment plan.

If rest, activity modification, time, and perhaps injections don’t resolve your symptoms, then surgical intervention may be necessary. Surgery to address a trigger finger is typically a same day procedure performed in a surgery center or hospital.After surgery, sutures are typically removed within 7-14 days, and noticeable symptom relief is generally expected. Some people may need formal hand therapy after surgery if their fingers have become stiff or contracted as a result of the condition.

While everything that clicks or pops in the hand may not be a trigger finger, this condition is common. Other hand conditions commonly experienced are arthritis, carpal tunnel, or tendonitis, to name a few. Regardless, the key is early diagnosis in order to tailor a treatment plan for your condition. With an early diagnosis, you may be able to get back to your favorite activities with hopefully more function and less pain.

Prior to joining Seaview Orthopaedics, Dr. Joseph Gower, hand and upper extremity surgeon, proudly served in the United States Air Force. A veteran of four deployments performing surgery in combat theater, Dr. Gower was chief of the Orthopedic Clinic at Landstul Regional Meidcal Center, Germany, and served as the orthopedic consultant to the Air Force surgeon general while on staff at Brook Army Medical Center, San Antonio.

Seaview Orthopaedic & Medical Associates provides compassionate musculoskeletal care in Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties. Seaview offers a full suite of orthopedic specialties including hand surgery, sports medicine and pediatric orthopaedics. Seaview is now accepting patients at their new office at 2139 Route 35 north, Holmdel.