Is it possible that my trigger fingers (I have three!!) and my carpal tunnel (in the same hand) are all connected? If so -- what is the connection?
Yes! A recent study of 300 patients with carpal tunnel syndrome showed a direct link between the number of trigger fingers a person had and the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, they found that patients with more than one trigger finger were three times more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome in the same hand as someone with only one trigger finger. With three trigger fingers AND carpal tunnel syndrome, it is likely that you have something going on to explain both.
Hand surgeons have noticed for a long time that many patients with trigger finger often had carpal tunnel syndrome first. They naturally wondered if there was a direct connection between trigger finger and carpal tunnel syndrome.
And according to this study, 41 per cent of the patients with multiple trigger fingers also had carpal tunnel syndrome. Only 16 per cent with single trigger finger presentation had carpal tunnel syndrome. And as the number of trigger fingers increased (from one finger to four), the incidence of carpal tunnel also increased.
Once the link between multiple digit trigger fingers was established, the authors turned their attention to the possible reasons for this connection. The carpal tunnel is created by the wrist bones forming an arch around the soft tissues of the wrist (e.g., around the ligaments, nerves, blood vessels, fascia, tendons).
Anything that decreases the space in the tunnel for these soft tissues can put pressure on the median nerve resulting in wrist and hand pain, numbness, and tingling common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. It may be that thickening of the synovium (fluid and lining around the tendons) that causes trigger finger is a contributing factor to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Patients with trigger finger also have thickening of the fibrous cartilage around the pulley system that helps the flexor tendons move the fingers. This pathologic change in the anatomy may help explain why carpal tunnel syndrome follows the formation of trigger fingers. But the exact relationship has not been completely uncovered just yet. More study is needed to understand the pathoanatomic relationship between trigger finger and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Lauren E. Wessel, BSE, et al. Epidemiology of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Patients with Single Versus Multiple Trigger Digits. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. January 2013. Vol. 38A. No. 1. Pp. 49-55.
*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.