Restoring My Complexion

Restoring My Complexion

Trigger Thumb: Why Does Your Bent Thumb Suddenly Snap Straight?

by Dylan Owens

If your bent thumb tends to snap out straight without warning, you may wonder if there's something seriously wrong with it. You may have a problem called trigger thumb, or stenosing tenosynovitis. Although it's not readily understood why trigger thumb occurs, individuals who have diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or hand injuries are at risk for the condition. Individuals who use their thumbs to repeatedly hold, grasp, or manipulate things, such as guitar strings and tennis rackets, are also susceptible to trigger thumb. Learning more about your trigger-happy thumb can help you overcome it.

What's Trigger Thumb?

Stenosing tenosynovitis can affect any finger, including the thumb. The condition typically develops when the sheath, or fibrous tissue, covering a tendon in the thumb becomes irritated enough to prevent the tendon from flexing, gliding, or moving freely over the bone. Over time, the irritated sheath thickens and develops small nodules, or bumps, on it. The thumb or finger eventually folds or bends inward until it sticks in place.

If you try to straighten out your bent digit, it locks in place, then suddenly springs or shoots open like the trigger of a gun or rifle. You might even feel a snapping sound as the tendon breaks free. Your symptoms may vary, but most people experience swelling and pain in the affected digit. It's also possible to develop a lump in the palm of your hand that feels sore or tender to the touch. You may experience a mild to intense discomfort as the thumb snaps straight. 

If you don't find treatment for your trigger-happy thumb, it may become worse with time. Trigger thumb can become so severe that it permanently locks in place, and it may be impossible to repair the damage without medical help.

Can You Do Something About Your Thumb?

It's important that you see an orthopedic specialist, such as a hand doctor, for treatment. An orthopedist will generally try to find out why you have problems with your thumb before they treat it. If you have a medical problem, job, or injury that makes you susceptible to trigger thumb, tell a hand doctor right away to make your treatment go more smoothly. Sometimes, medical conditions like diabetes can create problems if you don't control or manage them properly. If this is the case for you, an orthopedic specialist may work with your primary care physician to get your diabetes back under control. Once you have your health on track, a hand surgeon may move forward with your treatment.

A hand doctor may be able to prevent permanent damage in your thumb with steroid injections and therapy. Steroid shots and therapy are designed to release tension in your thumb and restore its movement. But if the treatments don't work as planned, surgery might be an option for you.

Surgery may involve opening or widening the sheath so that the thumb's tendon has more room to move through it freely. Most people experience movement in their trigger fingers and thumbs immediately after surgery. However, your results may be different, depending on the severity of your trigger thumb. If you have concerns about what to expect from surgery, consult with an orthopedist right away.

After surgery or treatment, keep your thumb and other fingers safe from stenosing tenosynovitis by exercising your hands regularly to improve movement in them. Also, try to avoid repetitive activities that keep your fingers in the bent position for long periods of time. Finally, monitor your health regularly. If you develop a problem that places you at risk for trigger finger or thumb, consult with a hand doctor or regular doctor immediately.

For more information about trigger thumb, contact an orthopedist at a location such as Town Center Orthopaedic Associates, P.C. today.


About Me

Restoring My Complexion

A few years ago, I began experiencing red, itchy patches on my eyelids and forehead. I began applying moisturizer to my face at this time. Unfortunately, it didn’t help my condition. My trusted physician informed me I might be suffering from the skin disorder psoriasis. This caring individual prescribed a medicated cream for me. Thankfully, the cream soothed my itchy, inflamed skin. If you have an unexplained, skin condition that isn’t responding to home remedies, make visiting your doctor soon a priority. On this blog, I hope you will discover the most common types of skin conditions people seek professional treatment for. Enjoy!