Trigger finger is a painful condition that causes the fingers to remain in a bent position, usually making it extremely hard to move the affected finger. The medical term for this condition is stenosing tenovaginosis. The condition usually affects the ring finger, thumb and little finger. Sometimes more than one finger is affected, and both hands may be affected.
Research, however, shows that the condition is common in the dominant hand, that is, if someone is right handed, the right hand is affected and the reverse is true. Some of the symptoms of trigger finger include a pain that radiates from the base of the affected finger when it is pushed or pressed against, stiffness and clicking of the finger(s).
This happens when the tendons in the specific finger become inflamed. Tendons are the tissue bands that link the bones to the muscles. When functioning well, the tendons allow one to bend and straighten their fingers and thumbs.
When these tendons are inflamed, it becomes very painful to do this. When the inflammation continues for a long period of time, it causes scarring of the tendons. When the scarred tendons pull through the sheath where they are contained, the result is a pop sound. The causes of trigger finger are forceful use of the affected fingers, diabetes, gout and arthritis. Farmers, musicians and manual labourers are at high risk of trigger finger. The good news is that there are natural remedies available for the home treatment of the condition.
1. Heat Therapy:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A clean cloth/towel and a bowl containing hot water. Alternatively, get a stainless steel mug with hot boiling water inside
One of the simplest remedies available for the natural treatment of trigger finger is hot compress. The heat from the compress increases the amount of blood in circulation, while soothing the tense tendons and allowing greater flexibility. This softens the joints in the fingers and provides pain relief.
The most important thing to remember when using this remedy is to ensure that there is regular use of the hot compress. This is because as the days go by, the relief provided by the remedy tends to last a little longer than the previous time. Consistency makes a big difference, and helps with quick recovery. Follow the simple directions below to get the most of this remedy. You may use either the hot compress or the steam therapy as the mode of action of both is the same.
Using the Hot Compress
- Soak the clean towel into the hot water for a minute and then carefully wring out the excess water.
- Wrap the hot towel around the affected finger so that the heat is evenly distributed.
- Gently press in the towel, but not so much so as to cause pain in the already inflamed tendons.
- Keep at it until the condition is completely cured.
Using Steam Therapy
- Place the hot water in a stainless steel mug, preferably one that is insulated to prevent heat loss. A tall mug is preferred because its essence is to allow the steam to rise to the affected finger without coming into direct contact with the water.
- Place the affected finger on the rim of the mug and use the palm of your finger to cover the mug.
- To help you regulate the heat and avoid scalding, move the affected finger up and down as needed; up when it gets too hot and down when it cools down considerably.
- Do this for about 10 minutes or until the water cools down and the steam is not available.
- Use this remedy thrice daily to help manage the symptoms of trigger finger, and eventually to allow for full recovery.
2. Alternate Hot and Cold Compress:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Hot compress (as prepared above), a second clean towel and a handful of ice cubes.
In addition to using the hot compress for the natural treatment of trigger finger, you may also add a cold compress to the home remedy for alternate use. In addition to the aforementioned benefits of using a hot compress, the cold compress helps to soothe the affected finger as well as numb the pain that radiates from the base of the finger. Remember not to apply ice cubes directly to the skin because they could easily cause skin damage.
- Apply the hot compress by following the directions included in remedy 1) above.
- After applying the hot compress, wrap the ice cubes using the second cloth to get the cold compress.
- Place the cold compress on the affected finger, moving it downwards and inwards to help straighten the tendons and reduce the pain.
- After 2 minutes, reapply the hot compress, then the cold compress.
- Do this for about 20 minutes until the affected finger starts to feel better.
3. Dip your Hands in Warm Water:
Time Required: 10 -15 Min
What You Need: Warm water in a bowl and a few drops of peppermint oil.
This remedy works similarly to that of the heat therapy options simply because the warm water used relieves pain associated with trigger finger. The advantage of this remedy is that it eliminates the risk of scalding, and may therefore be used more frequently. Add peppermint oil to the warm water to enjoy its soothing pan relieving properties.
- Place warm water in a large bowl and proceed to place the affected fingers inside.
- You may attempt to wiggle the fingers while still in water to ease the tension present int he tendons.
- Do this whenever the pain sets in and bending the fingers becomes difficult.
4. Take Frequent Breaks from Work:
Time Required: Varies from one individual to another, but typically 5-10 Min should be enough.
What You Need: Make a decision to take small frequent breaks from work and an alarm clock
One of the causes of trigger finger is improper use and excess pressure on the fingers. To counter this, taking frequent breaks from work is recommended as one of the simplest ways to help prevent the condition in the first place. Even when the disorder is present, taking frequent breaks cuts down on the continuous pressure exerted on the fingers. This is especially important for those who are often involved in manual labour and lifting of heavy objects.
- Depending on your work routine, make sure you schedule small breaks in between different sessions to avoid improper use of the fingers.
- Set an alarm every so often to serve as a reminder of the need to take breaks. Once you get the hang of it however, it becomes easy to mentally program work breaks.
5. Use a Splint to Support the Finger
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A finger splint and bandage to hold the splint in place
In cases where trigger finger causes extremely sharp pains, it is recommended to get a finger splint. This splint not only provides sturdy support for the affected finger, it also prevents the subconscious folding of the fingers as they could easily bend and remain in that position. The advantage of this form of treatment is that it is remarkably effective at night, and works to prevent the folding of the finger. You may hold the splint in position using bandages.
- Wear the finger sling and use the unaffected hand to get the job done. Try and ensure that the finger does not fold during this process.
- Wrap the bandages if need be.
6. Get a Finger Massage:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A warm bath and your preferred massage oil.
When you notice the symptoms of trigger finger start to manifest, you can easily get relief by massaging the affected fingers with oil. The idea behind this remedy is to use an inward massage technique so that the tendons can resume their original position, and help reduce the inflammation present.
Oil is added to the massage routine to prevent friction between the palm of the hand and the fingers during the massage. Additionally, it helps to warm the oil before use as the heat goes a long way in reducing the pain. Some of the excellent choices of oil for this massage include coconut, olive and chamomile oils. These oils are recommended for their soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. Follow the simple directions outlined below for this remedy.
- Place the oil in a shallow bowl and put the bowl in the water bath.
- Allow the oil to heat (indirectly) for about 10 minutes.
- Put a few drops of the warm oil on the affected fingers and massage gently, making sure the massage technique is done inwards. This is key because it helps restore the tendon’s original position.
- Massage the affected fingers for about 10 minutes.
- Repeat this procedure as often as the pain intensifies during the day.
7. Do Stretching Exercises:
Time Required: 15 Min
What You Need: To carry out the stretching exercises religiously.
One of the effective home remedies that you can use to treat trigger finger on the go is passive stretching. Just as the name suggests, this involves stretching the affected finger as well as the same hand. The purpose of this simple stretching routine is to help prevent the scarring of tendons, which in turn makes it difficult for the condition to heal quickly. Additionally, stretching increases blood circulation to the affected finger.
- Hold the trigger finger using your other unaffected hand.
- Gently stretch your hand upwards to the ceiling and hold that position for a few seconds before returning to the original position.
- Repeat this severally to prevent the progression of adhesions that form in the tendon sheath of the trigger finger.
8. Raw Ginger:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Raw ginger slices, pestle and mortar as well as warm water.
Ginger is a common kitchen ingredient, but did you know that it is a potent home remedy for the natural treatment of trigger finger? Ginger’s active ingredients are rich in anti-inflammatory properties, and this is what helps manage the condition. When crushed to form a paste and applied topically, raw ginger provides pain relief on the affected finger.
- Peel and clean the raw ginger then cut it into thin slices.
- Transfer the thin ginger slices to a mortar and crush using the pestle until you have a grainy paste.
- Apply this paste to the affected finger, making sure you cover it from the tip to the base of the trigger finger.
- Leave the paste on for half an hour and rinse with warm water.
- Use this remedy thrice daily until the affected finger starts feeling better.
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Ground turmeric, warm water and a set of disposable gloves (optional).
Turmeric, just like ginger, is an amazing spice with numerous culinary uses. This spice is also known for its excellent anti-inflammatory properties which help counter the pain and inflammation experienced in the trigger finger. The presence of curcumin, one of the active ingredients in turmeric, is effective in reducing the inflammation. This active ingredient is also thought to inhibit the production of inflammatory substances in the body.
NOTE: You may need a disposable pair of gloves to prepare this remedy as turmeric has a deep orange colour that easily stains.
- To prepare this remedy, add water in bits to the ground turmeric and stir as you do this. The purpose of this step is to get a paste that is neither too sticky nor too runny; a perfectly consistent paste that is eases the application process.
- Once the paste is ready, apply a generous amount of it on the affected fingers and massage inwards.
- Let the paste dry and then rinse the finger after 30 minutes.
- Use this remedy daily until the finger is completely healed.
Other home remedies recommended for the natural treatment of trigger finger include fish oil whose omega-3 fatty acids help lubricate the joints and deal with the inflammation, pineapple which is rich in bromelain and helps counter inflammation as well as almonds. Remember that home remedies are most effective when used consistently over a period of time. Whenever in doubt, get a medical appointment and have your doctor advise on the way forward.