Trigger Finger / Thumb Syndrome is a VERY annoying Repetitive Strain Injury to say the least, with symptoms ranging from slight ”skipping” of the tendon as the finger is bent into flexion, to severe pain with the finger “jerking” and “locking” down into the palm of the hand, with the inability to straighten it again without assistance from the opposing hand pulling the finger back into extension…which by the way can also be quite painful. So when this condition begins to present itself, or you are already afflicted with it, what can you do that will help get rid of it or at least reduce its severity?
1) Heat up your hands first thing in the morning by running them under warm water for five (5) minutes, placing them between a folded-over therefore pad for five (5) minutes, or wearing microwaveable or electric heating mitts for five (5) minutes. It is important to heat up the hands as it increases the pliability of the tendon sheath, thus allowing the affected tendon and nodule to slide through the tendon sheath and pulley system easier.
2) Reduce the amount of finger flexion and gripping activities that you are performing. Also, if a therapist has recommended gripping, pincer-type movements or finger-walking exercises, stay away from them. Increased finger flexion, especially with a high level of resistance, only irritates the tendon and its sheath more, thus increasing the level of symptoms for most people.
3) The most critical component of trigger finger recovery is to perform light stretches to the affected finger flexor tendon followed by finger extension exercises. Doing this helps increase circulation and healing nutrients, break down scar tissue, reduce the size of the nodule on the affected tendon and assist in thinning it, allowing it to pass through the tendon sheath and pulley system with much greater ease.
4) If your condition is so severe that you cannot perform exercises without pain, get a cortisone injection. Once the inflammation has reduced, start performing the appropriate stretches and exercises as listed in step-3.
5) If you’ve tried everything with no success…and I mean everything, have the surgery, but make sure you still follow up with steps 1-3 for a more effective / successful recovery.
Utilizing these methods in the order listed above should really make a difference. Start with conservative and work your way towards non-conservative. Give the conservative approach time though, at least 12-16 weeks before moving towards the more invasive methods. Check out repetitive-strain.com for more information.