How to Treat Flexor Tenosynovitis: Condition of Finger & Knuckle Joint

Flexor tenosynovitis is a painful condition of finger and knuckle joint. In this condition the flexor tendons of hand become stiff, swollen and painful. Tenosynovitis is inflammation of synovium, a sheath filled with fluid that surrounds a tendon. When flexor tendons are affected, the condition is called flexor tenosynovitis. There is swelling at the base of affected finger. Patient complains of pain when he moves his finger. He feels pain while clasping his fist or while releasing the clenched fist.

The affected finger tends to get locked up (fixed) in one position.

To bring back the locked up finger back to normal is painful task. This disorder can occur as a result of overuse of finger joint, rheumatoid arthritis or due to infection. Tenosynovitis in majority of cases is treated conservatively with anti inflammatory medicine and antibiotics. Surgery may be required in some cases to release the tension around the flexor tendons.

Possible Causes

Flexor tendons of hand which originate from elbow joint pass through wrist to get attached on the distal portion of fingers. The main function of tendons is to attach bones, muscles and cartilage.

Each tendon in palm and fingers is covered with a sheath called synovial sheath containing fluid. It provides lubrication and flexibility to the joints of finger and palm. In flexor tenosynovitis there is inflammation of this sheath as a result fluid builds up and it becomes difficult to flex the fingers. The condition usually exists in any finger but most often thumb and index finger is commonly affected.

The most common reason for flexor tenosynovitis is bacterial and viral infection. Infection caused due to deep punctured wounds or bites of an animal are prominent reasons. It can also occur as a result of overuse of fingers as in typists. People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes may also suffer from flexor tenosynovitis.

What are the Symptoms?

  • Flexor tenosynovitis is also known as trigger finger. There are number of physical signs and symptoms experienced by the patient when he suffers from this condition.
  • The most common sign is spontaneous locking of finger in bent position. There is a snapping sound when the finger bends or extends abruptly.
  • There is excruciating pain in affected finger.
  • Patient is unable to clench his fist or if once clenched is unable to release it due to extreme pain and stiffness.
  • There is symmetrical swelling of entire finger.
  • The affected tendon is tender to touch.
  • As the condition progresses, the range of movement is severely restricted.
  • Pain may radiate to hand and arm.

Available Treatment Options

Flexor tenosynovitis is considered a serious condition which needs quick medical attention. After diagnosing the condition, the health care provider immediately begins treatment. In case if the underlying cause is bacterial infection, the patient is given antibiotics and anti inflammatory medicines. The affected finger is splinted and elevated. Non operative treatment is continued only so long as there is a good local and general response. If medicines are found ineffective in treating the infection, surgery may be necessary to drain the pus and excess of fluid.

Physical therapy is recommended after the course of treatment to improve and strengthen movement and function of finger joint.

If patient is diabetic, he should take precautions to keep his blood sugar level under control.

He should eat balanced diet.

Mixing turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk is effective natural anti inflammatory and mild antibiotic. Drink one glass daily as a complementary natural remedy to enhance healing process.

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