Our specialists treat many finger conditions, including trigger finger, numbness and tingling, fingertip injuries, tendon injuries, and finger deformities.
Trigger finger, or tenosynovitis, is a condition that makes it difficult to straighten the finger or thumb due to tendon inflammation.
The affected finger or thumb becomes stuck in a bent position, and then suddenly straightens with a snap or pop, as if releasing the trigger of a gun. Oftentimes, pain and swelling occur where the finger or thumb meets the palm.
Trigger finger occurs more often in women. Other risk factors include repeated gripping, health conditions such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, and carpal tunnel surgery.
Nonsurgical treatment for mild trigger finger symptoms typically includes anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen and naproxen, or injections of a strong anti-inflammatory, such as cortisone. If those treatments fail to provide relief, surgery is recommended. During surgery, the sheath that surrounds the tendon is opened to enlarge the space and release the swollen tendon, allowing for the finger or thumb to once again move freely. The procedure is performed under a local anesthetic, and the patient often goes home the same day.
Numbness and Tingling
Numbness is the loss of sensation or feeling in your hand or fingers. Often, hand numbness may be accompanied by other changes, such as a pins-and-needles sensation, burning, or tingling. Numbness can occur in one hand, or it may occur symmetrically in both hands.
In addition to numbness and tingling, your hand or fingers may feel clumsy or weak.
Numbness or tingling in the hand, wrist, or arm is usually related to carpal tunnel or other repetitive motion disorder. Other common causes are writer’s cramp, trigger finger, arthritis, and tendon issues.
Options for treating hand, wrist, and arm numbness including injunctions, surgical intervention, and hand therapy.
Fingertip injuries are those affecting the end joint of the finger, the finger pad, or nail. They can range from minor cuts to major injuries that result in severe damage to bones and tissue such as fractures, lacerations, and amputations. Fingertip injuries also may involve damage to blood vessels, nerves, and tendons.
In addition to bleeding, bruising, and swelling, there may also be complications such as decreased feeling and a change to the shape of the finger. Some fingertip injuries may develop an infection. Due to nerve endings on the tip of the finger, these injuries may be painful and sensitive when touched.
Treatment depends on the type and severity of the injury. Trinity Health’s hand and wrist surgeons are specially trained to examine these injuries and recommend the best course of treatment. Without proper care, they may result in permanent deformity and disability.
Tendons – wiry pieces of tissue that connect muscle to bone – can become painful when we overexert or perform activities that are repetitive or cause the muscles to strain. The most common tendon injuries are:
- Tenosynovitis: Inflammation around the sheath that surrounds the tendon
- Tendonitis: Inflammation of the tendon itself
- Tendinosis: Chronic deterioration of the tendon
- Tendinopathy: A general term for tendon injuries
The inflammatory response of tendon injuries causes swelling, pain, tenderness, and impaired function.
Certain disease processes also can lead to tendon problems, including diabetes and arthritis.
Since tendon pain is usually caused by inflammation, icing the injury is usually recommended. Resting or modifying activities may also help, along with bandages and/or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
While most tendon injuries heal after a few weeks, some can cause problems for an extended period. Surgical intervention may be called for in some cases. In addition, Trinity Health’s hand therapists can prescribe treatments and exercises to improve strength and range of motion.
Finger deformities can be congenital or develop over time. There are several common varieties of finger deformities.
Types and Related Symptoms
- Swan-Neck Deformity. The joint at the base of the finger bends in while the middle joint straightens out and outermost joint bends in, causing the finger to resemble the shape of a swan’s neck.
- Mallet Finger. Sometimes called “baseball finger,” mallet finger occurs when the tendon that straightens the tip of a finger is injured, causing the fingertip to droop. Mallet finger happens most often during sports play, but it can also occur from other forms of trauma, such as getting a finger slammed in a door.
- Boutonnière Deformity. The joint near the knuckle is permanently bent toward the palm.
- Dupuytren Contracture. This is a hand deformity that happens when fibrous tissue in the palm of the hand thickens, causing one or more fingers to be pulled down toward the palm and unable to extend or straighten.
Many deformities are caused by an injury or are the result of a disorder, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Deformities can sometimes be treated by splinting or exercises, but if the deformity has lasted for weeks or months, these treatments may be ineffective because scarring has developed. When splinting or exercises are not helpful, surgery may be needed.