What Makes My Finger Joints Pop Lock and Catch?

by katiem2

Arthritis is a common condition anyone may develop as they age. But if your fingers pop, click, catch and lock you may not be experiencing arthritis but trigger finger.

Arthritis is a common condition most everyone understands they may develop as they age. The stiffening of joints being one of the most familiar symptoms gives reason to believe joint popping or catching is arthritis but quite the contrary. This frequent problem is not arthritis but one involving the hand causing locking, popping and clicking of a joint or joints of a finger or thumb. The medical term for this condition is stenosing tenosynovitis. The layman’s term is trigger finger. This ailment is not arthritis but inflammation of the tendon due to a narrowing of the tunnel or sheath of the tendon.

Do I Have Trigger Finger?

The difference between trigger finger and arthritis

Anytime you flex or grasp with your hand or finger you straighten and release it, this process triggers two sets of tendons making it possible for the motion to occur. 

Trigger finger involves the tendons of the hand that are normally smooth bands running from the muscles in the forearm to the bones in your fingers.

The path of the tendons is that of the tightened tunnels or the sheath due to inflammation mentioned earlier. The sheath is lubricated and keeps the tendons close to the bone making the movement more efficient and fluid.

Trigger finger occurs when inflammation develops causing the tendon to enlarge therefore thickening and narrowing of the sheath. This is all located in the area of the palm. The pulley effect of the tendon is greatly impacted by the inflammation and narrowing of the sheath causing the catching, popping, locking and sometimes pain. 

What Causes Trigger Finger?

The causes of trigger finger are overuse.

Some believe trigger finger is caused by over use, repetitive gripping, holding of utensils, tools or brushes or anything used for work or hobbies on a routine basis.  The science community is researching connections to other illness that may make some more susceptible to it. 

How to Treat Trigger Finger?

The best way to treat trigger finger is with down time and some tender loving care.

The optimal treatment is healing and prevention.  Stop using the affected area allowing it to heal and preventing it from developing into a more painful and permanent condition. To avoid surgery decrease the activities you know to be causing it long enough to heal the inflammation.  During the down time soak the affected area in warm water solutions, use over the counter anti-inflammatory medications and rubs, anything that help ease the discomfort and more importantly relieve inflammation allowing healing.

Steroid injections are also an option. This process injects a small dose of anti-inflammatory cortisone into the problem area. The cortisone shots reduce inflammation quickly reducing the swelling in the tendon sheath and often curing the problem without further reoccurrence. The success rate of cortisone injections is reported to be in and around 60%.

Do You Believe Trigger Finger is Real?

Is trigger finger a real medical condition or simply a form of arthritis?

Yes, trigger finger makes sense to me because,
Veronica on 08/26/2016

I have had 4 triggers successfully operated on now. It is uncomfortable but I am so glad that I did go ahead.

Veronica on 09/19/2015

Hello Katie

I am going to hospital on Tuesday to see if I need another finger operation. Trigger finger is very real to me. :(

Veronica on 08/29/2015

I have been told by my consultant doctor that it happens because some people develop little nodules on the tendon in the palm and then the pain is in the finger joint although originating in the palm. MY cortisone injections only last me about 10 months at a time.

Veronica on 08/29/2015

I am about to have a fouth trigger finger operation before Christmas.

teddletonmr on 11/05/2013

I have been there and done that as they say. My doctor told me to avoid further complications I should let the ole bones rest and heal.

ologsinquito on 11/05/2013

I do believe trigger finger is real, but fortunately I don't have it and I don't know anyone else who has it.

Updated: 11/05/2013, katiem2
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?

Have you mistaken trigger finger for arthritis?

katiem2 on 09/02/2016

frankbeswick, Good to know, I thought the exact same thing once I experienced such difficulties. Good advice about the oils, THANKS

frankbeswick on 08/24/2016

I went to the doctor only last week with the symptoms that you describe? She thought that it might be osteoarthritis and had me X-rayed, results yet to be returned to me by post. I think that gripping my rather large strimmer has had a bad affect on my hand, but I also think that the joint pains indicate osteo-arthritis. I was advised to apply oils, and have chosen comfrey oil, which seems to be working.

katiem2 on 08/31/2015

Vernonica, Interesting, you know it must be our work ethic. Irish people are known for working hard... Seriously, you make an interesting point.

Veronica on 08/31/2015

Yes I'm sure it was difficult for you. I was treated for arthritis to start with but then my fingers started to trigger.

I do ask myself, you said you had Irish ancestry? Triggers are not unknown in people of Irish, Scandinavian descent. MY family have it too . I have had so many operations on them that an operation is considered the first line of treatment for me now.

katiem2 on 08/31/2015

Veronica, I was so dumbfounded by my diagnosis I had to share it with others. It feels really bad but the end is in sight when following the advised treatment plan.

katiem2 on 08/31/2015

Frank, Sounds like it could in fact be trigger finger. I developed it in my thumb. My thumb would snap in a hesitating motion as if stuck and it become very painful. It is when the pain got so bad I went to the doctor. Turns out it was trigger finger, I thought I was developing arthritis. I followed the anti-inflammatory regime, which was the topical cream mentioned above. I also gave my hand a break, yes no typing and in a few weeks it was all but forgotten.

frankbeswick on 08/30/2015

Thanks. I have been checked for diabetes and the tests were negative. Scandinavian origin? I have Scandinavian DNA, as I have ancestors from both Lancashire and Limerick, both of which were settled by Norwegians.

Veronica on 08/30/2015

Frank, Yes it can be. The thumb is unusual in a trigger and definitely needs attention. It can be a sign that you have diabetes or else of Scandinavian origin where finger contractures are genetic. Mine are Scandinavian as I have some Irish/ Scandinavian ancestry.

Diabetes or a thumb trigger you certainly need to book an appointment. I am having my fourth trigger finger operation very soon.

A Trigger Finger will lock in a bent position and spring forward by itself or move by manipulation.

frankbeswick on 08/30/2015

Occasionally when gripping tools my thumb locks and I have to manually pull it to unlock it. Is this trigger finger?

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