Psoriatic Arthritis and Trigger Finger: Causes and Symptoms | MyPsoriasisTeam

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Psoriatic Arthritis and Trigger Finger: Causes and Symptoms

Medically reviewed by Florentina Negoi, M.D.
Written by Torrey Kim
Posted on April 19, 2024

If your finger ever gets stuck in one position and you can’t move it, you might have a condition called trigger finger. If you’re already living with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), this symptom can affect quality of life, making simple tasks more challenging to perform.

“Has anyone with psoriatic arthritis ever had trigger finger?” one MyPsoriasisTeam member asked. Another replied, “I get trigger fingers. My pointer finger would not move at all.”

Read on to find out what may cause trigger finger in people with PsA, what symptoms to look for, and how to manage the condition.

What Is Trigger Finger?

When the tendons in your fingers and their surrounding linings become irritated, it can lead to inflammation. This inflammation can make the tendons near your finger joints stiff, stopping them from moving smoothly through the pulley system that helps your fingers bend. This can make it feel like your tendons are “stuck.”

Trigger finger develops when the tendons in your fingers are irritated and freeze in position. (Adobe Stock)

When the tendon has trouble moving back and forth, your finger can freeze in position and you may not be able to move it. This is known as trigger finger, also called stenosing tenosynovitis or trigger thumb.

Trigger finger is most common in the ring finger, although it can affect other fingers as well as the thumb. (CC BY-SA 4.0/RCraig09)

Trigger Finger Symptoms

People with psoriatic arthritis may experience a variety of symptoms involving their hands or fingers in addition to their other PsA symptoms. However, there are ways you may be able to tell the difference between trigger finger and other common issues like dactylitis (also referred to as “sausage fingers”) or enthesitis (inflammation at the sites where tendons or ligaments attach to the bone).

Although dactylitis causes severe swelling, soreness, range-of-motion issues, and tenderness, it isn’t as likely to cause one or two fingers to freeze in position. Instead, this condition’s main feature is extreme finger or toe swelling and pain.

Dactylitis, also known as sausage fingers, is a symptom of psoriatic arthritis. Dactylitis can limit range of motion but is unlikely to cause your fingers to freeze in one position. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ/DermNet)

Depending on how severe your trigger finger is, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • A clicking or popping feeling when you move your finger
  • Stiffness in the affected finger, which may be worse in the mornings
  • A finger catching or locking in a bent position that may remain bent or could pop straight unexpectedly
  • A bump or tenderness on the palm near the bottom of the affected finger, which could mean that a nodule is present

These symptoms could be accompanied by joint pain or swelling and may affect the thumb as well as any fingers. The most common location is the ring finger, which is the fourth finger on your hand, next to your pinkie finger.

“Trigger finger is causing more pain,” one MyPsoriasisTeam member wrote about their symptoms. Another said, “I am having trigger finger, pain, and some swelling in one finger. I have trouble picking up heavier things.”

If you notice any of these symptoms, tell your rheumatologist or another doctor. They can help figure out if these symptoms are from trigger finger or your psoriatic arthritis. To diagnose trigger finger, your physician will perform a physical examination and ask questions about your medical history. In most cases, you won’t need more diagnostic tests.

Can Psoriatic Arthritis Cause Trigger Finger?

Inflammation in the finger’s pulley system is more common among people with psoriatic arthritis than in those with other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. However, one small study found that this inflammation only escalated to trigger finger in about 6.6 percent of participants.

Although your trigger finger may be caused by PsA, other factors can contribute to the condition. If your job, hobbies, or tasks require you to often grip or use your thumb and fingers forcefully, such as holding onto tools, you might develop trigger finger. In addition, the condition is more common among people of older age and in women, according to Mayo Clinic.

Treating Trigger Finger

Your rheumatology team will select the most appropriate treatment options for you depending on your symptoms, as well as your overall health and other conditions.

Below are some possible treatments for trigger finger:

  • Therapy — The first step is resting the finger, stretching exercises, or wearing a splint or compression glove.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) — Your doctor may suggest that you take a , such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve).
  • Steroid injection — Your provider may inject a corticosteroid such as cortisone into the affected tendon to reduce inflammation and help improve movement.
  • Dry needling — In some cases, inserting a needle into the affected tissue and moving it around without injecting medication can help improve movement.
  • Surgery — If more conservative treatments don’t work, the doctor may suggest performing trigger finger release surgery, which opens up the space in your hand to allow the tendons to move more freely.

MyPsoriasisTeam members have found success with a variety of treatments. “I’ve had trigger finger on about four of my fingers,” one member wrote. “I try to exercise my fingers and hands when my finger locks. I bear the pain and help it unlock. I also take methotrexate.”

Another member said, “I got injections in them and they’ve been fine.” Someone responded, “I had three of them, but cortisone helped.”

Yet another member was headed for surgery after no luck with other treatments. “My hands hurt at night and keep me awake,” he wrote. “I have a trigger finger on my left hand and I’m having surgery to straighten it out. It’s been stuck for almost three months.”

If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing trigger finger, talk to your doctor right away. They’ll be able to evaluate your symptoms and design the right treatment plan for you, while taking your other health conditions (including PsA) into account.

Find Your Team

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, as well as their loved ones. Here, more than 127,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their experiences with others who understand life with psoriasis or PsA.

How do you manage trigger finger? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below or by posting on your Activities page.

Posted on April 19, 2024
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Florentina Negoi, M.D. attended the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, Romania, and is currently enrolled in a rheumatology training program at St. Mary Clinical Hospital. Learn more about her here.
Torrey Kim is a freelance writer with MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

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