You may have heard of trigger finger before. Trigger thumb is the same thing, but pertaining to the thumb. If you have had it before, you know that it is very painful.
What is Trigger Thumb?
According to WebMD, “Trigger finger happens when tendons in the finger or thumb become inflamed”. If you have trigger thumb, your thumb will lock when you bend it. Because of the swelling, it is hard for the tendon to move in the joint.
The medical term for trigger finger is stenosing tenosynovitis. Dr. Jeffrey E. Budoff MD, a Houston orthopedic surgeon, explains the symptoms of trigger finger in a very helpful list below, if you are unfamiliar with this condition.
The symptoms of trigger finger are:
- Stiffness, more common in the morning
- Feeling your finger pop or click when you move it
- Having a bump on your palm, right under the affected finger
- Finger locks then suddenly straightens out on its own
- Finger locks in a bent position, you are unable to put it straight again
What Causes Trigger Thumb
According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, the cause of trigger finger is often unknown. However, it is linked to:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
There are certain factors that can put you more at risk to get trigger thumb:
- A job or activity that requires a lot of gripping. Some examples are: gardening, musicians, using a lighter
- Women are more prone to getting trigger finger.
- Trigger finger is more common in adults in their 40s and 50s
- If you have had surgery for carpal tunnel, this could be a side effect or complication
How to Treat Trigger Thumb
The first recommendation to treat this condition is resting the affected finger. If you see a doctor, he may:
- use a splint to keep it stable.
- Depending on the severity he may prescribe something to treat inflammation.
- Steroid injections may also be used
- As a last resort, surgery could be needed.
There are also some at-home exercises that can be done to help the symptoms of trigger thumb:
- Place your hand on a flat surface, palm down, and lift each finger one at a time. You will need to do it slowly, holding each finger up a few seconds. Give extra attention to the injured digit.
- Keeping your fingers straight, place an elastic band around all five fingers. Pull the elastic band open by stretching your fingers. Do this several times.
- If it is one of your four fingers that is affected, take the injured one and make a circle with your thumb. Hold it for five seconds. Do this about 10 times.
- Hold a tennis ball, or even better use a stress ball if you have one. Squeeze it for five seconds and let go. Do this a few times per day.
- Spread your fingers open with your hand straight, then close it into a fist. Repeat this a few times.
- Start with your finger facing straight up, bend them so they touch the top of your palm, raise them again. Bend again, but this time go down to the center of your palm and back up again. Finally, bend them all the way to the bottom of your palm and then back to the starting position.
- Massage the affected joint. This will enhance circulation to that area, helping it heal better. A good idea is to massage it before and after doing the other exercises.
You may also choose to use come home remedies to treat trigger thumb. These include:
- Apply ice or a cold compress numerous times a day, this will help with the swelling
- Soak your hands in warm water with Epsom salt. As much as cold is beneficial, the heat with also helps relax your muscles and increase blood flow. Do this a few times per day.
- Take fish oil. This will help repair the damage to the tissue in your finger.
- Massage the affected finger with coconut oil. This will help with the swelling and fight infection if it is present.
- Use ginger. Ginger can be added to your diet and has many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. You can also take fresh ginger and rub it directly on the injured finger or thumb.
- Use turmeric. Make a paste with turmeric and warm water and apply it to the injured finger. Leave on for 20 minutes before rinsing. This should help ease some of the pain.
- Use aloe vera. Simply rubbing it on the finger will help with the pain and inflammation.
Trigger thumb can be caused by repetitive gripping or other medical conditions. You may not require medical attention and luckily there are many exercises and home remedies to help. However, if you feel that it is too bad, consult with your doctor to be safe.