Trigger Fingers

Let’s talk about sticky fingers. We call them trigger digits or fingers. It’s very common that someone comes into my office complaining about pain in their hand or their finger is catching/locking. The vast majority of the time this is a trigger digit.

What does it look like? Well, the most obvious is that when someone makes a fist and then opens their hand, one or two fingers stay stuck down. Usually they have to force them open which is really painful. Sometimes it can be mild and there is just pain, or they could feel pain and a clicking sensation whenever they bend their finger down.

So, what causes it? We actually don’t know. We know the process that occurs and what’s going on but why it happens to one finger and not another eludes us. We all use our hands throughout the day for work or taking care of ourselves and family. Simply put, it’s a process of inflammation that progresses over time.

Can you fix it? Absolutely! If it’s not severe (meaning stuck down for a long period), then we usually start with an injection. In a lot of cases, this will cure the problem. If it doesn’t, we have a small procedure we can do that will certainly eliminate the problem.

Well, can I get it in other fingers after one has been made better? Unfortunately, yes. Each finger on your hand has its own opportunity to start triggering.

What’s the best advice you can give if this problem is happening to someone? Come in early. We spoke about injections and typically the sooner you get injected, the better chance you have of not needing a small surgery.

Dr. Daniel M. Avery III is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in general orthopedics, hand surgery, sports medicine and upper extremity with OrthoSports Associates. He is a medical columnist for the Herald.