Trigger finger - looking for advice

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Hi everyone. Looking for a bit of help and advice.  I'm an older climber and I have developed what I believe is trigger finger.  The finger next to my little finger on my right hand locks at the middle knuckle and rubs a little to straighten, i.e. doesnt glide as it should.  This is very, very mildly painful first thing in the morning as it rubs but after a while it will start to glide normally.  I'm still climbing on it.  I detect a slight stiffness on the knuckle.  It does not hurt during climbing or mostly for that matter.   It is just obviously very concerning generally but particularly as a climber.  The net, Dr Google, seems to suggest that it may get better on it's own.  Or if it needs surgery that there is usually a good outcome and it doesn't reoccur.  I would like to seek other climbers' advice on this regarding their experiences.  For example, how long should I leave it before getting it looked at?  Obviously it would make some sense to see if it rectifies for some time period?  If I need to get it looked at by a consultant would I need to go through my gp or could i go directly to a private hand surgeon for a consulation?  I'm happy to pay.  Any good ones?  I'm on the South Coast.  Personal experiences from other climbers will be much more valuable than Dr Google at this stage. Looking for advice.  Thank you so much if you reply.    

Post edited at 16:44
 misterb 25 Sep 2021
In reply to downsouth:

I've had it several times over the years and funnily enough have it right now in my left hand little finger 

I find that it just goes away after a period of weeks or sometimes a month or so 

I basically do a few forearm stretches and massage my finger and Palm area where the finger attaches morning and night and it seems to fix it 

Weirdly I haven't climbed for 4 months so not sure what set it off, before it has normally occurred when I am climbing or training hard 

Like you my finger is locked up in the morning when I wake up , which is unpleasant and needs a bit of help and 10/15 mins to get rid of most of the notchyness

In reply to misterb:

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.  It has really helped stem my worry.  I've never heard of anyone who has had it but maybe they suffer in silence.  Like you mine came on when I haven't been climbing.  I've been resting as I have a sore shoulder so it was really weird that it came on.  One difference though is that when I am climbing I do stretches on my whole hand and individual fingers and some wrist curls etc. with dumbells to ensure I'm doing some antagonistics and I haven't been doing them.  I will start doing them again.  Apart from the odd click out first thing in the morning it isn't painful although I detect a slight stiffness.  I also have some bumps on the middle of my palm which I suspect is connected.  I will do as you say and do the antagonistics.  I'm very pleased to give it a time to hopefully resolve and go away.  I'm not one to run to the medics as I'm a believer/hoper that things will resolve on their own and your reply has confirmed that this can be possible. I will be more thorough with all my stretching.  I'm doing some light climbing now.  Thanks so much for replying.  At least someone has heard of it.  Appreciate your help. 

In reply to downsouth:

I've had this in both thumbs. It's an inflamation of the tendon which makes it difficult to pass through and then back through a pulley. At their worst my thumbs would be locked in the morning either in extended or bent positions and needed 10 - 15 minutes of painful manipulation to get them working. I had them injected with cortisone which fixed both of them in about ten days. That was about six months ago for the left and twelve months for the right. They are both still fine, with absolutely no sign of the condition.

 mrjonathanr 26 Sep 2021
In reply to downsouth:

Don’t think this is as uncommon as you may think. A good physio would be a first port of all. Consultant surgeon will be available privately if you then want to pay for their advice.

As an example, think I paid about£200 to see Mike Hayton a few years ago. He’s a top hand surgeon in NW, you will find people in SE Ism sure. He does video calls. Looks after a lot of boxers, very experienced.

but I’d start with a good physio before spending money which might result in a “just keep going and see how it develops for now” type of answer.

Post edited at 13:19
 Martin Bennett 26 Sep 2021
In reply to downsouth:

I've had it in a middle finger for years. It goes from stuck in the mornings to hardly noticeable. I met a retired GP whilst having a beer in Kalymnos some years ago. He said it was quite common and usually best left alone, though relatively simple to fix surgically. He said he'd only ever referred one patient for surgery and that was because the finger was permanently crooked and he was an upholsterer. Easy to get a crooked finger down the back of a sofa . .  . . .  but try getting it out again!

 DalesClimber 26 Sep 2021
In reply to downsouth:

I've had this in my little finger. It wasn't too painful, but not great and very unhelpful for climbing. My GP did a cortisone injection into the tendon sheath in the surgery, which has had really good results, and also gave good advice on recovery exercises. So before you spend lots of money privately, it's probably worth a chat with your GP or regular physio.

(NB: Do not try to go climbing the day after the injection like I did. It's a really bad idea and it will hurt!)

 Martin W 26 Sep 2021
In reply to downsouth:

I've had it twice.  First time was seven years ago in the middle finger of my left hand.  Second time started just over a year ago in the ring finger.  Both cases were past help from physio by the time I became aware of them.  So I had the cortisone jab in both cases, which fixed it for a few months, but it then came back.  I was advised that they could try another cortisone jab, but if it had come back once it would likely do so again - and there is a limit to how many times they are prepared to keep jabbing you with steroids in the same place.  The first occurrence was operated on - a fairly simple outpatient procedure - and that fixed it for good.  I'm on the waiting list to get the ring finger operated on but they say it might be a while - apparently there's a bit of backlog of non-critical surgical procedures at the moment for some reason...

Apparently the combination of climbing, mountain biking and playing guitar is pretty the perfect for setting it off.

(I remember when they operated on the first one, the surgeon offered to let me have a look at the inner workings of my hand before he stitched it up.  I suddenly had a flashback to that scene in Star Wars where Luke Skywalker is having his cybernetic hand fitted, and politely declined.  I refrained from saying that it probably wouldn't be a good idea to let me see it if they didn't want me to throw up in their nice clean operating theatre.)

Post edited at 18:21
In reply to jon:

Thanks Jon, that is really helpful.  Really appreciate it. 

In reply to mrjonathanr:

Thanks Jonathan for the information.  Very good point.  Def don't want to pay good money for "see how it goes".   £50 a word.  Ha ha.

In reply to Martin Bennett:

Ha ha yeah I see.  Thanks so much for replying.  Really appreciate people's kindness. I'm definitely on the "see how it goes" thought trajectory based on the replies.  

In reply to DalesClimber:

Really great advice.  Thanks so much for replying.  I'm definitely thinking to leave it a little and try the GP route and cortisone injection if it doesn't just fade away on it's own.

In reply to Martin W:

Wow.  I guess there are several routes that this could end up going.  I'm getting the gist of the various trajectories. Very kind offer from them, ha ha.  Did they operate via the knuckle (front or back) or the palm of the hand?  Thank you very much for taking the time to share your experience.  I hope you get the second operation really soon. Fingers crossed!  Ooops, maybe shouldn't say that!!!

In reply to downsouth:

Thank you everyone for your very kind replies.  I really appreciate the time taken to share experiences.  I have gone from worried sick to the extent that I couldn't sleep last night thinking that I would have to give up climbing and have a permanently dodgy finger to thinking that ok it is awkward and concerning but one way or another it will get sorted.  UK Climbing forum at its best!  Fingers crossed ha ha that we all get everything sorted. x

 mrjonathanr 26 Sep 2021
In reply to downsouth:

You are welcome. If you did look for a surgeon to speak to, Mike Hayton is a really top one and has experience of treating climbers.

FWIW I have a bit of this in my palm, unchanged since it arose 30 years ago. I hope your settles without costing ££, conservative approaches are often recommended even by surgeons!

 artif 26 Sep 2021
In reply to downsouth:

Just another leave it be unless very painful from me.

My two middle fingers on both hands get notchy on a regular basis. Sometimes quite an effort to straighten them.

It comes and goes and has been for several years now.

As someone who works with there hands both for work and pleasure, engineering and woodwork plus lots of silly sports my hands take a lot of abuse. Never bothered me too much.

Feet are different story, I could quite happily cut my feet off sometimes due to the nerve pain in my toes.

 LastBoyScout 27 Sep 2021
In reply to downsouth:

My Dad (not a climber) is going in for surgery on his right hand today - had his left hand done a few years ago, I think by the same surgeon.

Left hand has been fine ever since, but it's 4-6 weeks out of action and having your hand strapped to a splint a lot of the time to keep the finger straight while it heals + lots of physio.

Seem to recall there's something this time about leaving the incision open, rather than stitching it, and letting it heal over.

It's an outpatient procedure with a nerve block, rather than a general anaesthetic.

In reply to mrjonathanr:

Thanks again Jonathan,  Will definitely bear Mike in mind.  I also have some bumps in my palm.  One under the middle finger. Feels a little inflamed.  One under the trigger figger, ironically not inflamed.  Think must all be connected.  Might go the Mike route just to get a view.  Intending to leave for a little while whatever to see if it resolves.  

In reply to artif:

Cheers for the insight Artif.  Going to leave be as seems to be consensus.  At least I know I can continue climbing since lots of others just getting on with it.  Some good advice here.  I'm glad I posted. 

In reply to artif:

Sorry re the nerve pain in your toes. That sucks.  Tight climbing shoes?

In reply to LastBoyScout:

Thank you for this information.  Appreciate it. Obviously not to be taken too lightly then.  Guess it is the last resort, first being leave alone, second cortison injections and three your Dad's op.  I wish him luck for his op today and a good recovery.

 artif 27 Sep 2021
In reply to downsouth:

> Sorry re the nerve pain in your toes. That sucks.  Tight climbing shoes?


Not sure on the cause, probably down to half a century of abuse. I've had numerous tests, scans etc and nothing conclusive, just been given some serious painkillers. 

re. the trigger finger, if its causing you worry, speak to your Dr, they can at least give you options.

 Martin W 27 Sep 2021
In reply to LastBoyScout:

> Left hand has been fine ever since, but it's 4-6 weeks out of action and having your hand strapped to a splint a lot of the time to keep the finger straight while it heals + lots of physio.


Nothing like as much drama in my case, though: no splint, stitches out after a week and no physio - just general advice to ease back in to full use of the hand gently rather than simply going for it as soon as it felt 'OK'.

In reply to mrjonathanr:

Do you have a recommendation for a good physio up in this area?

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