The snap finger is a problem that can significantly affect the movement of the hand. So it’s best to contact your doctor when the first symptoms appear to improve the prognosis.
The snap finger is a condition that restricts the movement of the finger and possibly prevents it from curving. In fact, the affected finger usually gets stuck in one position. To stretch or bend it again, you have to let it “snap” like a spring does when it stretches after it is released.
A problem in the long tendons, also called flexors, causes this abnormality. These tendons slide through a kind of tunnel – the tendon sheath – that surrounds them. When this shell becomes irritated and inflamed, the tunnel narrows and makes movement difficult.
In the most severe cases, the snap finger locks in the curved position and can no longer move. Another name for this condition is stenosing tenosynovitis, which is more common in women and diabetics.
The snap finger and its symptoms
The snap finger can appear in any finger of the hand, including the thumb. In fact, it almost always affects more than one finger, even on both hands. The condition is progressive and usually starts with persistent pain at the base of the finger.
The first symptoms of the snap finger are usually the following:
- A bump will appear around the base of the finger, towards the palm of the hand.
- The muscle at the base of the finger feels painful and tender to the touch.
- Those affected feel stiffness in the finger, especially in the morning hours.
- When moving, the finger snaps.
As the snap finger advances, it gets stuck in the crooked position and suddenly stretches. In advanced stages, it gets stuck and can no longer stretch.
The basis for diagnosing the snap finger is a physical exam by the doctor. When the patient makes a movement in the affected area, a click will be heard that is characteristic of this abnormality.
The doctor completes the physical exam by asking the patient to open and close their hand. The professional will also check the palm and base of the fingers and inquire about the manifestations of pain and signs of blockage. After that, it is possible to confirm the diagnosis.
Treat snap fingers
Treatment for the snap finger depends on the condition of the finger and the time that has passed between the onset of the disease and the visit to the doctor. There are generally three treatment options available: medication, therapy, and surgery.
The use of medication will help relieve the pain and inflammation, which will make movement easier. Typically, doctors prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen, and other similar drugs. This action is intended to improve symptoms, but does not solve the problem.
The snap finger can also be treated with therapeutic measures of physical therapy such as the following:
- Rest: Reaching, holding or working on vibrating machines is avoided for four to six weeks. If you are unable to rest your hand, consider wearing a padded glove.
- Splint: It allows the finger to stay straight and is only worn at night. Usually the splint is worn for a month and a half.
- Gentle Exercises: Some hand stretches can also be prescribed to improve range of motion.
- Heat and cold: Alternating the use of heat and ice helps reduce swelling and pain.
- Soaking in warm water: Soaking your hand in warm water several times a day can relax the tendons and relieve symptoms.
If medication and therapy do not work, surgery should be performed. The following procedures are also sometimes tried before surgery:
- Steroid Injection : It is injected into the tendon sheath and helps reduce inflammation. The steroid injection can be effective for a year or more; however, several injections are sometimes required.
- Percutaneous release : This involves inserting a thick needle into the inflamed tendon after an anesthetic is administered to release the compression that is clogging the tendon.
If these procedures don’t work and don’t work, the patient will need surgery. This is an outpatient procedure in which the doctor makes an incision in the compressed area to cut the tendon sheath. The greatest risk in this case is infection or the ineffectiveness of the operation.
Risk factors that favor the snap finger
There are some people who tend to develop a snap finger more easily. The known risk factors are as follows:
- Age: people over 40 and under 60 years of age.
- Diseases: People who have diabetes, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis or tuberculosis.
- After an operation due to carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Repetitive Activities: Performing tasks or jobs that require repetitive gripping.
The snap finger, a condition with different treatment options
The snap finger is a disease that can significantly affect the quality of life. Therefore, in these cases it is advisable to adapt to the new conditions and avoid grasping movements. If these movements cannot be avoided, then it is important to consider and evaluate efficient protective measures.
It is also important to note that none of the treatments available are one hundred percent effective. However, a high percentage of patients experience improvement after being injected with corticosteroids, and surgery also offers a significant chance of success. So overall, the prospects for recovery are good.