What is Trigger Finger or Tenosynovitis?
In the hand and fingers mild inflammation of the tendons can cause swelling of the tendons and of the tendon sheaths in which they glide. This swelling causes the tendons to rub more as they glide. The rubbing causes increased inflammation and swelling, which causes more rubbing, which causes more swelling, etc. The swelling can reach a point at which the tendon cannot glide fully. In this situation the finger may pop or snap as it moves or even become stuck in one position. Sometimes it is impossible to pull the fingers into a full fist position. This is often called trigger finger (thumb) or tenosynovitis. It can occur spontaneously or can develop after injury to the palm or from chronic repetitive stress.
Injections of cortisone into the tendon sheath often help to decrease the swelling and allow freer gliding of the tendons. Anti-inflammatory medications are sometimes effective. If relief is not obtained with the shots, then a small operation is used to open up the tendon sheath at the area of tightness. This is performed under local anesthesia on an ambulatory surgery basis. 95% of patients get relief of symptoms and freer gliding of the tendons as a result of this operation.