Trigger finger, the term used to describe finger lock, occurs when the fingers get stuck in a flexed position, as if you were trying to pull a trigger. The locked feeling makes it feel like it’s impossible to move your fingers when they’re stuck in this position.
This can be caused by swelling around the tendons of the fingers, preventing them from moving as they should.
This article discusses the causes and risk factors for stuck fingers and when to see a healthcare professional.
Causes: Why do my fingers lock up?
Locked fingers develop when there are problems with the tendons of the hand, which are tissues that connect bones and muscles. Around the tendons are sheaths that act as a protective tissue for the tendons and help keep the tendons in the right place.
When there is a problem with these tendons, your fingers can become stuck in the trigger finger position. Several things can cause this, including the following:
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory form of arthritis that can affect the hands. It is also considered an autoimmune disease because the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the joints. This leads to inflammation and swelling.
The inflammation and swelling that develops in RA can lead to trigger finger. As the sheath protecting the tendon becomes inflamed or swollen, the tendon can no longer move as freely through it.
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that develops when the body does not produce enough insulin to handle glucose in the blood or when it does not produce insulin at all. When glucose builds up in the body of a person with diabetes, it can lead to many other health complications, including trigger finger.
Although it’s not clear why people with diabetes are more likely to have trigger finger, high blood sugar levels are thought to cause a buildup of collagen in the sheaths surrounding the tendons. This buildup of collagen causes the sheaths to thicken, causing the fingers to become stuck due to a lack of internal mobility in the hand.
What is the trigger finger frequency?
Having blocked fingers is incredibly common. Many people may experience this at one point or another in their lives. However, people with diabetes are about 4 times more likely to develop blocked fingers than people without diabetes.
Gout is a form of arthritis that causes sudden pain, swelling and joint tenderness. It most often affects the big toe joint. Since arthritic conditions like gout cause swelling, they can lead to stuck fingers. If the swelling in the hand is severe, it can affect the ability of the tendons to slide through the sheaths.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid, a gland located in the neck, does not produce enough thyroid hormones to maintain required functions. This condition can cause finger locking due to its impact on tendon health and vascularity.
Can cold temperatures cause blocked fingers?
Unlike arthritis, which can flare up in cold weather, temperature changes generally don’t play a role in the development of stuck fingers.
Amyloidosis develops when amyloid protein, thought to play a role in regulating cells and nerves in the nervous system, builds up in an organ. Amyloidosis can cause trigger finger by accumulating cells and nerves in sheaths, leading to thickening.
In some cases, irritation and swelling of the sheath of the hands can lead to trigger finger for no apparent reason.
Dealing with symptoms
Symptoms of stuck fingers, including pain, swelling, loss of movement, and sensations of clicking, locking, or catching, can all be difficult to manage. However, there are treatments that can help relieve symptoms. They understand:
- Finger splint overnight
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Stop or reduce repetitive hand movements that could promote the development of trigger fingers
- Steroid injections
- Hand physiotherapy
- Surgery to correct problems from the inside
Finger Lock Risk Factors
Aside from medical issues and idiopathic causes, locked fingers also have some risk factors. These include:
- Repeated hand grabbing: Certain hobbies or professions can cause finger locks if you have to make repeated gripping movements to complete the task at hand for a long period of time.
- The health problems mentioned above: Although the conditions discussed above can be considered causes, they also fall into the category of risk factors, as people with these disorders are more likely to develop trigger fingers than people who do not suffer from them. not.
- The elderly : People in their 40s and 50s are most likely to develop trigger fingers.
- Hand injuries: Trigger fingers can occur in people with injuries to the base of the finger or palm. Carpal tunnel syndrome surgery can also cause trigger finger.
- Other medical conditions: Conditions such as Dupuytren’s disease and De Quervain’s disease can lead to blocked fingers in some people.
Risk factors and causes
Risk factors indicate that if a person falls into a specific category, they are at higher risk of developing a particular disease when there are no signs of a direct cause. Causes, on the other hand, are directly correlated to the occurrence of a disease or disorder. Some of the causes mentioned above, such as RA and diabetes, could also be considered risk factors.
Finger Lock Activities and Jobs
Since repetitive movements can lead to finger locks, certain hobbies and occupations may be considered higher risk when it comes to developing trigger finger.
Illness-related activities and jobs include:
- Jewelry making
- Playing guitar/musicians
- Office Jobs That Require a Lot of Typing
- Construction workers who consistently use the same high-powered tools
- Industrial workers
Does trigger finger go away without treatment?
In many cases, locked fingers will correct themselves over time. That said, the condition may recur. Note how often you have trigger fingers and tell your doctor when it happens.
When to get a referral to a specialist
When you experience a stuck finger, pay attention to the signs and symptoms, including:
- Stiffness and pain in the fingers
- Catching or locking when you try to move your finger
- A sudden pop when the finger finally straightens
- A bump at the base of the affected finger
If at any time these symptoms make it difficult to perform your daily tasks or cause you excessive pain, it is essential to consult an orthopedist, a health professional who specializes in disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Although trigger finger is not serious in terms of overall health, it can indicate other health problems.
There are many treatments you can try so you don’t have to live with this discomfort. Non-surgical treatments for trigger finger include:
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
A more serious condition associated with trigger finger, infectious tenosynovitis, can lead to permanent damage to the finger. If you experience the following symptoms along with your blocked fingers, you should see a healthcare professional as soon as possible:
- Redness on the finger
- Pain when moving the finger
- Excessive swelling
Having your fingers locked can be an uncomfortable experience. When this happens, it can prevent you from using your hand to perform daily tasks and cause symptoms such as swelling and pain in the hand. There are many causes and risk factors associated with trigger fingers, such as diabetes and various forms of arthritis.
Although a serious disorder is not usually the cause, locked fingers can indicate other health problems. Consult a healthcare professional if trigger finger persists.
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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