It's no secret that as you grow older, your body starts developing a few quirks and minor malfunctions. Although many of these smaller issues are simply inconveniences, others can progress into more serious medical disorders that can restrict your daily functioning. Trigger finger, for example, begins as moderate stiffness in one or more of your fingers, but it can worsen until your finger is stuck in a permanently bent position. Although it can be managed without surgical intervention, many cases of trigger finger require a form of orthopedic surgery known as tenolysis to restore a full range of motion. 

Recognizing the Signs of Trigger Finger

Trigger finger is most common in older women with a history of other bone or joint disorders, but it can appear in a wide variety of patients. It is caused when one of the tendons within your finger are no longer able to move comfortably within their protective sheath, due to swelling, inflammation, and growths in one or both. You may first notice it as stiffness or a popping sound when you attempt to straighten your finger. This resistance will become more and more pronounced as the tendon becomes more restricted, eventually locking the finger into place. 

Treating Trigger Finger Non-Surgically

If you notice your case of trigger finger early, your doctor may recommend avoiding surgery in favor of physical therapy or steroid injections to reduce the swelling. This may be all it takes to soothe the tendon and keep your finger moving freely. On the other hand, more serious cases may not respond to these treatments, making orthopedic surgery a necessity. 

Relieving Tension in the Sheath

Tenolysis is a relatively complex procedure meant to physically increase the room for movement within your tendon's sheath. This is accomplished by making a small cut along the sheath or removing damaged portions, depending on how far the disorder has spread. This incision releases pressure on the sheath, which allows the tendon to move more freely. The surgical site is then sewn up and the finger allowed to heal before you can resume your normal daily activities. 

Treating Inflamed Tendons

With any luck, that extra breathing room will be all it takes to reduce any inflammation in your tendon and see you make a full recovery. You may, however, be placed on a maintenance program to further treat any lingering damage to the tendon. If you have been living with the annoyance of trigger finger for too long and would like to have it treated professionally, talk to an orthopedic surgeon in your area to get started confirming a diagnosis and determining the best treatment plan for your situation.