Hand & Finger

Arthritis of the Hand & Finger

Your hand and finger joints are delicate, and as with all joints, movement of these joints is permitted by smooth cartilage that allows for minimum friction. Unfortunately, as a result of injury, wear and tear, and other conditions, arthritis can develop when that cartilage breaks down. Without that cartilage to cushion the delicate hand and finger joints, you may have pain even when you’re not using them. Hand and finger arthritis is accompanied by a dull pain, swelling, and stiffness in those extremities. In order to relieve pain and restore function, we start with conservative approaches like physical therapy or steroid injections. If these treatments fail to provide relief, surgery may be necessary. 

Mallet Finger

Mallet finger is an injury to the tendon that affects the tip of the finger, known as the extensor tendon. The end joint will bend, but not straighten itself, and while the joint can be pushed straight, it cannot hold its position on its own. The tendon may have torn or detached from the finger bone. Mallet finger is common in sports, when a hard ball directly hits the fingertip. In addition to the obvious deformity in the finger, signs of mallet finger can include pain, swelling, or bruising. Most mallet finger injuries can be treated without surgery. Your doctor will most likely require you to wear a splint or cast, with the goal of keeping the fingertip straight until the tendon heals. With this treatment, the finger will usually regain function and appearance. Surgery may be considered if the injury has resulted in large bone fragments or joint misalignment, in which your surgeon will use wires or screws to secure the bone fragment and realign the joint. 

Trigger Finger

Flexor tendonitis, or trigger finger, is a type of tendonitis that develops in the tendons that bend the fingers. Because there are no muscles in the fingers themselves, tendons connect the muscles in the forearms to the finger bones and move the fingers when pulled. When these flexor tendons become irritated, the inflammation narrows the space within the sheath surrounding the tendon in the affected finger. As tendon swelling interferes with the normal movement of the tendon, the finger will often catch and lock in a trigger position. Pain, swelling, and stiffness can result as well. Those whose work or hobbies require repetitive gripping actions are at higher risk of developing trigger finger. Treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition. Conservative treatment options include medication, a splint, stretching exercises, and steroid injections. If the condition warrants surgery, a trigger finger release procedure is done to cut the constricted tendon causing the problem. By freeing the tissue, the affected finger will be able to move freely again.