Trigger Finger : Golf Injuries
Hand injuries can occur in golf due to the repetitive motion of the golf swing or by gripping the golf club incorrectly. Trigger Finger affects the tendons in the finger or thumb and can cause it to lock in a bent or flexed position.
What is the Role of Tendons?
Tendons are thick sinewy bands that link muscles to bones. They permit the bone to move when the muscle contracts. The tendons in the hand run the length of the fingers and are attached to the forearm. Tendons are linked to bones by ligaments called pulleys. The pulley acts as a sheath around the bone that the tendons slide through smoothly.
What Causes Trigger Finger?
Trigger Finger is caused when the pulley that sheathes the bone becomes damaged, making it difficult for the tendon to slide through smoothly. The damaged pulley becomes thickened, which disrupts the natural movement of the tendon. It then becomes difficult to bend the affected finger or thumb and it can lock, getting stuck in a bent or straight position. The pulley at the base of the finger is the one that is the most commonly affected because it is subjected to the most amount of force when you grip something. This condition is more likely to affect your dominant hand and occurs more frequently in the thumb, ring finger and little finger, but can spread to the other fingers. The constant friction between the damaged pulley and the tendon often aggravates the injury if left untreated.
Why are Golfers Affected by Trigger Finger?
The repetitive nature of the golf swing puts a lot or pressure on the fingers, especially if your grip is too tight. Female players and players over 40 tend to be more prone to Trigger Finger. Ignoring the early warning signs and continuing to play will probably make the condition much worse. It is also more likely to occur if you already have a hand injury.
What are the Symptoms of Trigger Finger?
It will become increasing difficult to bend or straighten the affected finger properly and if left untreated, it may be impossible to fully straighten the finger. A small lump of tissue may form at the base of the finger and the finger will feel stiff and painful. The finger may also keep clicking as the tendons struggle to move through the pulley.
What Can Golfers Do to Prevent Trigger Finger?
Using the correct grip, taking regular breaks and ensuring the hands get plenty of rest between golf sessions will greatly reduce the risk of developing Trigger Finger. Wearing gloves will provide extra padding and help to protect the hands. You should also try to develop a softer grip and remember to replace the club handle grips as soon as it is necessary.
How is Trigger Finger Treated?
Treatment depends on how advanced the condition is and non-surgical methods will be used where possible. For mild cases, you may be advised to simply rest the hand to see if the symptoms subside on their own. Anti-inflammatory medication will help to relieve pain and swelling. Wearing a splint on the affected finger will immobilize the tendon, preventing further pain and irritation. Cortisone injections are a very effective method for treating Trigger Finger, relieving the symptoms in 57-93% of cases.
If surgery is necessary, there are two options available:
Open Trigger Finger Release Surgery consists of making a small incision in the palm of the hand, allowing the surgeon to slice through the damaged pulley and free the opening of the tendon sheath. The operation will be carried out under local anaesthetic. The wound will then be stitched up and dressed with a light bandage.
Percutaneous Trigger Finger Release Surgery is also performed under local anaesthetic, but this technique does not require the hand to be opened up. Instead, a needle is inserted into the base of the finger, which will slice through the pulley. This type of surgery avoids leaving you with a scar because no incision is made. However surgeons usually prefer the open release method because it is a much safer option, as it is much less likely to cause damage to the nerves and arteries that are very close to the tendon sheath.
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