Treatment of Trigger Finger with Therapeutic Ultrasound

Treatment of Trigger Finger with Therapeutic Ultrasound

Stenosing tenosynovitis is a common complain when it comes to hand injuries. Also known as trigger finger, this condition presents with locking of the fingers due to injury or inflammation to the tendon and its sheath. It is commonly seen in young children and adults in their 50’s and 60’s. In 90% of the children affected, the thumb is the affected digit, while in the adults the thumb or ring finger are most common.

The main symptom with trigger finger is the locking of a finger in a bent position (flexion) and difficulty straightening of the finger (extension). A nodule is sometimes present at the point where the tendon locks, preventing it from gliding smoothly within the tendon sheath. The tendon sheath is a tunnel-like structure that allows tendons to glide back and forth when there is movement of a joint. Usually, the affected finger has to be straightened manually or if it does go into extension on its own, you may hear a snapping sound. The sound comes from forcing the tendon over the nodule. Some swelling and tenderness may also be affected in the joint affected.

This condition is often caused by overuse of the hands and is also seen in cases of rheumatoid arthritis in adults.  One method that has been effective in the treatment of this stubborn condition is the use of therapeutic ultrasound.  For children, therapeutic ultrasound is not recommended because it may affect their growth plates, however, adults experience great results with this modality. The use of therapeutic ultrasound helps to reduce the swelling in the tendon sheaths, which allows the tendons to move freely and improve range of motion in the affected joint(s).  Therapeutic ultrasound coupled with flexion/extension exercises lead to successful results for this condition.