Trigger finger 

Trigger finger, which causes your finger or thumb to snag and click painfully when you bend and straighten it, isn't dangerous, but it can be a nuisance. Most cases can be cured by a simple steroid injection.

Learn the symptoms of trigger finger

Transcript of Trigger finger

My name is David Warwick.

I'm a consultant hand surgeon at Southampton University Hospitals.

I'm going to be talking about trigger finger.

What is trigger finger?

Trigger finger's a strange condition.

The tendon which pulls down the tip of your finger

for some reason gets snagged at the base of the finger.

And then, when you make a fist, one of your fingers locks down

and you can't straighten it again.

The cause of trigger finger is usually just spontaneous. It just happens.

But sometimes we do see it more commonly in people with diabetes

and people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Sometimes we even see it in very young babies.

If a friend of mine went to the GP with trigger finger,

there are a few things that perhaps they'd just want to ask.

Firstly, you want the diagnosis to be confirmed.

Usually, if you have a finger that clicks, it is a trigger finger.

Just occasionally there are other diagnoses, which need to be excluded.

None of them are serious, it's just that the treatment is different.

The next thing to ask is, "How do you think this can best be treated?"

If it's very mild, you may need no treatment at all,

but if the trigger finger is a nuisance,

ask the doctor if he'll give you a steroid injection.

Some GPs are very happy to give the injection themselves.

Other GPs prefer to refer you on to someone else

who can do the injection instead.

That cures about 70 per cent of patients.

If one or two injections don't cure this for you,

then the next thing is to consider surgery.

Ask your doctor where he's going to send you.

Find out about that hospital

and see if it's the sort of operation that they do.

Then ask if you can have a local anaesthetic.

This is a very simple operation

and there's no need to have a general anaesthetic.

What happens is you come into hospital just for a few hours.

A local anaesthetic is put into the palm of your hand,

the hand is sterilised and a tight tourniquet is put around your upper arm

just so the surgeon can see what he's doing without any bleeding in your hand.

And then a one-centimetre cut is made over the palm of your hand

and the opening around the tendon that's too tight is freed up.

Two or three tiny stitches are put into the wound

and a very light dressing is applied.

You'll be encouraged to move the hand straight away afterwards.

After surgery you'd have to avoid gripping anything,

such as a steering wheel, for a week or so.

You'd probably have to avoid very heavy work for up to three weeks,

but light office work you could get back to after just a few days.

In fact, gentle use of a typewriter and simple use of your fingers

is probably the best rehabilitation for this condition.

Any operation has a small risk of a problem.

The risks for trigger finger are indeed very rare.

It's less than one or two per cent likely

that you'll have any significant problem.

Problems that could occur would be problems with the wound healing

or, very occasionally, unexpected stiffness after the operation.

Or numbness of one of the nerves which supplies sensation to your finger,

because those nerves run very close to the site of the operation.

And finally I'd tell my friend

that for most people, a steroid injection works.

If not, then surgery almost always cures everyone

and the chance of a problem is very small indeed.

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