Grasping toys can be a challenge with a locked trigger finger.
Trigger finger is a condition that causes a finger joint to stick. In children, this condition typically causes the affected finger to "lock" in a bent position. This is different than in adults, who usually experience catching and snapping as an affected finger bends and straightens. Trigger finger affects adults more often than children.
The tendons that bend the finger and thumb travel through slippery tunnels, called sheaths. These tunnels are held in place in the palm by several pulleys. A short or swollen tendon can get caught as it glides under the pulley, making the finger lock or click as it bends. In children, the finger joint usually gets stuck in a bent position and the thumb is affected more often than the other fingers.
Adults with trigger finger usually experience "triggering," where the affected finger catches but then releases, or triggers, as it is bent or straightened. In children, the condition is most often diagnosed when a parent, caregiver or the child's doctor notices a thumb or finger is stuck in a bent position. Although uncommon, trigger finger sometimes affects more than 1 digit but rarely affects both hands.
The exact cause of trigger finger in children is not known, but some researchers theorize it may be a result of tendon thickening after minor injury. Unlike adults with this condition, trigger finger does not cause pain in children.
More than 75 percent of cases of trigger thumb in children spontaneously get better within 5 years, according to a study published by "Clinics in Orthopedic Surgery" in June 2011.
Splinting to prevent finger bending can decrease symptoms of trigger finger. This is usually required for up to 6 weeks and may not be well tolerated by young children. Cortisone injections are sometimes used to decrease inflammation in the tendon sheath.
Surgery may be required to treat trigger finger in children, particularly if the finger is stuck in a bent position and makes it difficult for the child to use her hand. A small incision is made in the palm near the base of the finger or thumb, and the pulley is cut to allow the tendon to glide freely as the finger bends. Surgery should allow full movement of the finger.