Can Trigger Finger be Treated by Exercises?
A trigger finger occurs when the tendons in the finger become inflamed or irritated, causing them to thicken or develop nodules. These changes can restrict the smooth movement of the tendon through the sheath, resulting in triggering or snapping sensations when attempting to move the finger. While the exact cause of the trigger finger is unknown, certain factors increase the risk of developing this condition, including repetitive hand movements, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and hormonal imbalances.
Traditionally, the initial treatment for the trigger finger has involved conservative measures, such as rest, splinting, and avoiding activities that exacerbate the symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. In more severe cases, corticosteroid injections may be administered to decrease swelling and alleviate symptoms. However, some individuals may seek alternative treatments that do not involve medications or invasive procedures.
Exercise is commonly recommended as a potential treatment for trigger finger, with the goal of improving finger flexibility and reducing inflammation. Exercises that focus on tendon gliding, such as the "fist" or "straighten and bend" exercises, are frequently recommended by physical therapists and hand specialists. These exercises involve gently moving the affected finger through its full range of motion, ensuring smooth gliding of the tendon within the sheath.
The scientific evidence regarding the efficacy of exercise as a standalone treatment for trigger fingers is limited. Most studies investigating exercise therapy have involved small sample sizes, making it challenging to draw definitive conclusions. However, some research suggests that exercises may contribute to symptom relief when used in conjunction with other treatments.
A study published in the Journal of Hand Therapy in 2016 examined the effectiveness of exercises combined with splinting for trigger finger treatment. The results showed that a combination of morning exercises and splinting led to significant reductions in pain and improvements in hand function compared to splinting alone. Nonetheless, it is important to note that exercise alone was not assessed in this particular study.
Another study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy in 2020 explored the impact of a six-week exercise program for patients with trigger fingers. The researchers found that patients reported improvements in pain, hand function, and finger mobility after the completion of the exercise program. However, the study did not include a control group, limiting its ability to determine the direct effects of exercise on triggering symptoms.
While evidence supporting the effectiveness of exercises as a primary treatment for trigger fingers is inconclusive, it is important to highlight the potential benefits these exercises may provide when combined with other therapies. The exercises not only focus on improving finger mobility but also aid in maintaining hand strength and dexterity, which are crucial for overall hand function.
Individuals experiencing trigger finger symptoms should consult with a healthcare professional to receive an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. A combination of approaches, tailored to the severity of the condition and individual needs, may yield the best outcomes. This may include a combination of exercises, splinting, medication, or corticosteroid injections.
In conclusion, trigger finger is a common condition that can significantly impact hand functionality. While the scientific evidence regarding exercises as a standalone treatment for trigger fingers remains limited, certain studies suggest that exercises, when used in conjunction with other therapies, may contribute to symptom relief and overall hand improvement. It is important for individuals suffering from trigger fingers to consult with healthcare professionals to determine the most suitable treatment approach for their specific situation.