Doctor, It Doesn't Hurt When I Do This...
August 14, 2014 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Once in a blue moon, I have a weird joint issue - my finger knuckle seems to get "stuck". My father - who has arthritis - says that's probably what it is. But I'm not so sure. Help?

I know you aren't my doctor and you aren't giving me medical advice.

It almost feels like what's happening is more like a mild form of dislocation - I'll be moving my fingers along, typing or grabbing something or whatever, and suddenly for whatever reason, one of my fingers will just get sort of "stuck" straight, like the middle knuckle has dislocated slightly and it's "locked". There's no pain, it's just....stuck. If I usually just use my other hand to bend it and it "unsticks" - there's no pain when I do that either. At most I feel a slight faint "click" that feels like the tendon clicking over something, or like when you crack a knuckle.

Dad says it's probably arthritis, but I don't have any of the symptoms of early arthritis at all. No stiffness, no pain, no swelling, no grinding sensation in the joint, nothing. There's also no rhyme or reason to when this "locking" thing happens - it'll just be once in a blue moon. There's no warning, no pain before, no over-exertion - it'll be moving fine and be flexible, then suddenly it'll just be stuck, I'll unstick it and it's back to normal movement again. It mostly seems to affect the middle and ring fingers. I'd say this may happen every couple months or so.

Is this arthritis? Or some other weird tendon thing? Ever heard of this? Thanks!
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I had constrictive tenosynovitis in my hands - had to get cortisone shots. I believe it's also called 'trigger finger.' They told me if it happened again that I'd need surgery, but I've been fine for several years.
posted by analog at 2:57 PM on August 14, 2014

Yes, trigger finger. I have had it several times, always resolved with NSAIDs and once with a steroid shot. My son had to have surgery for it, though.
posted by anastasiav at 3:07 PM on August 14, 2014

My mother had trigger finger on and off for years, eventually her finger basically locked and they did a simple surgery on the sheath of the tendon to allow movement. NSAIDs and icing can help. Bringing down the imflamation will help the tendon slide in the sheath.
posted by wwax at 3:18 PM on August 14, 2014

This happens to me also, very occasionally. Never asked the doctor about it, 'cause there's no pain. Since there's no pain, IANAD but I'm ruling out arthritis (and I'm 60 years old). I say, don't worry about it.
posted by Rash at 3:23 PM on August 14, 2014

My dad had the same thing and yeah, trigger finger. If it starts bothering you or gets worse there's a relatively simple surgery to correct it, with a couple weeks' recovery.
posted by Specklet at 3:38 PM on August 14, 2014

I did look into trigger finger, but all the links I saw defined it as the finger being stuck in the BENT position. In my case it's stuck STRAIGHT, though. Is that still it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:06 PM on August 14, 2014

Not a doctor so i can't say for sure obviously but my mums would get stuck either all the way down or out straight.

From the WebMD page so make of it what you will.

In some cases, the finger or thumb locks in a bent or straight position as the condition gets worse and must be gently straightened with the other hand.
posted by wwax at 4:36 PM on August 14, 2014

I have it on my fourth fingers, and our kid has it much worse on her thumb. It gets stuck straight or bent. The advice is to massage the point regularly where there's a sort of tiny bump, for her at the base of her thumb. She's supposed to have surgery at some point, but we're postponing it with doctor's approval because it doesn't interfere much yet. She's supposed to have a handbrace but hates it. It's a little tube that the ligament sort of slides in and out, but when the tube is inflamed or busted, the ligament gets caught. They slice the tube open to release the ligament - outpatient surgery, local anesthesia for adults and a pretty fast recovery, but you can't use that hand for a while.
posted by viggorlijah at 4:48 PM on August 14, 2014

I knew someone who had this trigger finger problem and had surgery. She claims that she later read somewhere that one of the medications she had been taking had trigger finger symptoms as a side effect. I don't remember what medication she said it was and she was prone to exaggeration, so take this story with a huge grain of salt. However, if you are taking any prescription medications, it might be worth checking into.
posted by Ophelia Bleu at 8:08 PM on August 14, 2014

Well, this seems kind of unanimous, and from what you're saying about trigger finger this seems the most likely culprit (and even if it's not, good point that this is infrequent and painless enough that it doesn't seem a big deal). I mean, I'll bring it up to my doctor during the next visit, whenever that might be, but otherwise I ain't gonna stress unless it starts happening way more often.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:59 AM on August 15, 2014

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