Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ

Question:

I have diabetes type 2 and now I'm starting to get a trigger finger. I do work in a meat factory packaging bacon. How can I tell if the trigger finger is from my diabetes or from my work?

Answer:

It may not be possible to separate out cause and effect. Both repeated gripping and lifting activities and diabetes mellitus have been linked to trigger finger. Both factors can cause a thickening of the synovial sheath around the finger tendon.

The result is that the tendon doesn't glide smoothly through its own tunnel resulting in the tendon getting stuck. Usually the finger is stuck in a bent or flexed position. But sometimes it gets stuck in an extended (straight) position.

Besides a limitation in motion, many people report pain and swelling of the finger with this condition. If getting your diabetes under control doesn't work, then local treatment may be helpful.

Sometimes splinting at night and even possibly in the day can relieve trigger finger. In other cases, a single injection of cortisone is all that's needed. You can get back to the job right away. However, there is a recurrence rate of about 27 per cent in the first year after steroid injection.

If more conservative measures don't work, then surgery to release the tendon may be advised. It's not likely that the trigger finger will come back but you may develop a new trigger finger in a different finger from the same cause. Sheryl B. Fleisch, BS, et al. Corticosteroid Injections in the Treatment of Trigger Finger: A Level I and II Systematic Review. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. March 2007. Vol. 15. No. 3. Pp. 166-171.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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