Finger Locking – Locked Finger

Finger locking is another term for trigger finger disorder. It can occur in any finger from the pinky to the thumb, and is caused by an overuse injury. The affected finger locks or flexes continuously in a position towards the palm of the hand. Individual finger joints as well as the finger as a whole may be affected.

When the flexor muscles on the fingers are overused or stressed, an adhesion called a “fibrotic nodule” forms on the tendon area. This causes levels of pain from mild to very severe. If left untreated, the affected finger can begin to lock up continuously, requiring the force of the other hand to stretch it temporarily back into a normal position.

Trigger finger or locked finger can also be caused by thickening or swelling of the tendon, preventing it from gliding easily through the tendon sheath. Excessive use of the hands because of work requirements or recreational activities involving repetitive motion can create this thickening and swelling. Another common cause is an infection of the synovium, leading to scarring and the build-up of a nodule on the tendon.

As with most repetitive stress injuries, prevention is the best cure. Preemptively incorporating stretching and finger exercises, application of heat, and anti-inflammatory preparations are all conservative therapy choices that can keep you working well with your hands, avoiding these advanced conditions. The finger locking treatment steps outlined can also help alleviate or reverse symptoms when you have already developed trigger finger disorder.

In advanced or extreme cases, however, surgery may be indicated. It is important to consult with your physician to give this option thoughtful consideration. Surgery is often the best choice when symptoms have persisted or become aggravated over time, and the outcomes of surgical procedures in these cases are almost always positive and lasting.

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