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Finger tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons in the fingers. This injury is most commonly caused by overuse and is relatively rare, with most injuries being observed in computer workers. There are several treatments available, depending on the causes of the injury, but the best treatment is usually extended rest. For people with use injuries like finger and hand tendinitis, changing work habits is also a key part of treatment.
The tendons in the fingers can become inflamed at any point along their length, although the most common spot is the first joint of the finger. The inflammation causes the tendon to stiffen and swell, losing flexibility. People with finger tendinitis have stiff, painful fingers and may experience a phenomenon known as trigger finger. In patients with this condition, when the hands are balled into fists and then released, the affected finger will stay clenched for a moment before releasing.
Computer work and other repetitive work with the hands can cause tendinitis even when people observe ergonomic precautions and rest their hands regularly. Workers should be alert to the early signs of finger tendinitis, including swelling around the joints, heat, stiffness, and redness. The hands should be iced and rested to allow the swelling to go down. Anti-inflammatory drugs can also be used to reduce the swelling.
In people who experience recurrent bouts of finger tendinitis, the inflammation can get worse and may cause permanent damage. Treatments can include more aggressive medications to treat inflammation, as well as braces to support the hands and fingers. Surgeries are sometimes used to treat severely inflamed tendons. When people are forced to rest because of inflammation in the finger and hand tendons, it is important to wait for a doctor's clearance to resume work. Even if the hands feel better, some residual inflammation can occur, and if the patient returns to work, a flareup will occur again.
Changes in work habits can include using dictation software, when possible, to reduce the amount of typing the patient has to do. Other changes can include using an ergonomic keyboard and supports, structuring several rests into the day, and doing hand exercises to gently stretch and flex the fingers. A physical therapist can help a patient develop a series of exercises to do at work and during breaks to support healthy finger tendons. Repetitive stress injuries like finger tendinitis are a known problem in many workplaces and people should be proactive about prevention and treatment to avoid permanent damage.