Our hands get lots of action and sometimes all that movement can result in problems like trigger finger and carpal tunnel syndrome.
These conditions were the topic of the recent Payson Regional Medical Center’s Senior Circle Lunch & Learn program presented by Dr. Patrick Harrison of Payson Bone & Joint.
Both trigger finger and carpal tunnel are tendon disorders, Harrison said. And all joints are susceptible to such disorders, he added.
Trigger finger results from a swelling of the tendon.
“It’s a tight compartment (the finger or thumb) with a lot of anatomy,” he said.
Trigger finger or thumb cause the fingers or thumb to catch or lock in a bent position, according to webmd.com.
Trigger finger may be caused by highly repetitive or forceful use of the finger and thumb. Medical conditions that cause changes in tissues — such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or diabetes — also may result in trigger finger. Prolonged, strenuous grasping, such as with power tools, also may aggravate the condition.
Harrison outlined the recommended course of treatment: start with an oral anti-inflammatory. If that doesn’t help, an injection may reduce the swelling. If that doesn’t work, surgery could be necessary.
Carpal tunnel is generally caused by increased pressure — usually from bone or connective tissue — irritated tendons and/or chronic swelling of flexor tendons.
Its symptoms are pain, numbness and tingling. Many things can cause it including diabetes, aberrant anatomy, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, Harrison said.
Pain and other symptoms may come and go — or wake you up in the night. The disorder can make you drop things or cause muscle wasting and skin changes.
If the impact is to the thumb area, the pressure is generally found in the wrist and base of the hand, Harrison said. However, if the problem is on the pinky finger side of the hand, that is most often due to pressure in the cervical (neck) spine, he said.
A physical exam may reveal which nerve is irritated.
The course of treatment depends on the severity of the condition. The initial step involves splinting, followed by oral medications. More aggressive treatments include steroid injections, physical therapy and finally surgery to divide ligament.
Harrison said he uses the open surgery to assure he is treating the proper area. Another surgery is endoscopic, or closed, surgery. Harrison said he prefers the open form because it is less likely to result in mistakes.