• Team Joseph

Why Won’t My Finger Extend?


Sometimes an injury can cause your finger to lock in a bent position. This can occur after you’ve jammed your finger, fallen onto your hand, or suffered a direct impact to the finger. These instances are usually related to a fractured or dislocated finger.


However, sometimes this catching sensation can arise after no traumatic injury. When this occurs, the most likely reason is “stenosing tenosynovitis” - also known as “trigger finger.”


What Causes Trigger Finger?


Flexor tendons run along the top of the hand. They connect the fingers in the bone to muscles in the forearm, allowing your fingers to bend as the muscles contract. Surrounding these tendons are rubber band-like tissues that hold the tendons to the bone. The tendons must slide through these bands to move your fingers.


Sometimes these pulleys and tendons swell, which can prevent the tendon from gliding through the bands. This results in trigger finger.


In the majority of cases, trigger finger is caused by irritating the tendon (or tissue) through repetitive motion. It’s a common condition among people whose professions or hobbies involve repetitive gripping motions, including:

  • Musicians

  • Farmers

  • Grocery store clerks

  • Carpenters

  • Factory workers

The finger locking into place is a severe symptom of trigger finger. Other symptoms that may appear first are:

  • Stiffness (especially in the morning)

  • Swelling

  • A feeling of popping or clicking in the finger

  • Tenderness

  • A sore lump forming at the base of the finger

  • Pain when bending and straightening the finger

These symptoms usually begin as mild and then worsen over time. If left untreated, the tendon in the finger could rupture.


Do I Need Surgery for Trigger Finger?


If diagnosed early, trigger finger can be treated nonsurgically. Dr. Joseph and his team at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery will almost always use conservative methods as initial treatment. This can include:

  • Rest

  • Ice

  • Splinting

  • At-home stretching exercises

  • Anti-inflammatory medications

  • Steroid injections

When it comes to steroid injections, cortisone is the anti-inflammatory agent most commonly used. When injected into the irritated area, it can provide almost instant relief (although sometimes two shots are needed over the course of several weeks).


If conservative treatment has no impact or the trigger finger symptoms are severe, Dr. Joseph may recommend surgery. This is what’s called trigger finger release surgery.


The goal of trigger finger release surgery is to release the pulley blocking the tendon’s movement. During this procedure, a small incision is made in the palm and the swollen sheath is divided. Releasing this tissue rarely causes problems, as there are several pulleys holding the tendon to the bone.


Trigger finger release surgery is a quick, low-risk surgery that can often be performed while the patient is awake. This is what’s known as “wide awake hand surgery” and Dr. Joseph is proud to offer this procedure to his patients.


Trigger Finger Doctor In the Vail Valley


Dr. Joseph and his team are known throughout Summit and Eagle County for their skill, compassion, and expertise. If you are experiencing pain in the finger or hand, contact Team Joseph today!


Team Joseph will work with you to design a treatment plan that gets you back to doing the activities you love (pain-free). Schedule a consultation by calling (970) 476-7220 or through our online appointment form.


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