Trigger finger is a medical condition causing locking or catching sensations, stiffness, and pain when patients bend and straighten the affected finger. The most commonly affected digits are the thumb and ring finger, though the condition can also affect other fingers. When the thumb is affected, it’s referred to as ‘trigger thumb.’ Each finger has bands of tissue, commonly called ‘pulleys,’ responsible for holding flexor tendons in place. With trigger finger, the A1 pulley located at the base of the finger thickens or becomes inflamed. The tendon can’t glide smoothly through it, and over time it may become inflamed as well. An inflamed tendon develops a nodule which, when it moves through the A1 pulley, creates a painful popping or catching sensation.
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Steroid injections are a potential treatment option to help reduce symptoms of trigger finger for anywhere from one day to a few weeks. Corticosteroids are medicines that resemble cortisol, a hormone involved in adrenaline responses. Cortisol and corticosteroids both inhibit the immune response, which decreases inflammation. For trigger finger, the localized injections are administered into the sheath of the tendon at the affected finger’s base. If one injection doesn’t improve the symptoms, doctors may administer a second. When two injections don’t provide symptom relief, other treatments are considered. Injections are generally less effective for diabetes patients, but they may still be a viable nonsurgical option. Individuals with diabetes should have their glucose monitored immediately after the treatment, though, since the injections can temporarily raise blood sugar.
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