If you develop a trigger finger, get checked for diabetes – Better Life

The link between diabetes and foot health has been well established and widely publicized by health organizations, but fewer people are aware of the link between diabetes and your hands. Experts say that although these symptoms are less universally known, they can cause major disruptions in the lives of those who already suffer from a blood sugar imbalance. In particular, there’s one symptom that causes cramping, pain and an inability to grasp – and you’re much more likely to develop it if you also have diabetes. Read on to find out which surprising problem in your fingers may signal a blood sugar problem and what you can do about it.

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Trigger finger (TF), also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, occurs when the flexor tendon of the hand becomes obstructed due to inflammation of the tendon sheath. In severe cases, this causes a locking phenomenon in which the finger bends and can only be extended with external force or manipulation. For some patients, this can be painful to do.

While only 2-3% of the general population will develop TF, the condition affects 10% of people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, according to a 2008 study published in the journal Current examinations in musculoskeletal medicine (CRMM). According to a 2021 study published in Frontiers in Diabetes clinic and health care (FCDH), some evidence suggests that this number could be closer to 20%, “depending on the group studied”.

But what exactly does diabetes have to do with the tendons in your hands? “Chronically high blood glucose levels are thought to cause connective tissue glycation, which means irreversible bonds between glucose and proteins are formed in the tissue, damaging it,” the health site explains. Diabetes self-management. For this reason, the longer you have lived with diabetes, the more likely you are to develop this symptom.

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Old senior man with trigger problem.  Healthy trigger finger lock concept.

According to the Mayo Clinic, you might have trigger finger if you notice stiffness in your fingers, “especially in the morning.” Their site explains that you may also experience a “popping or snapping sensation when you move your finger”, tenderness in the palm near the affected finger, locking of the finger in a bent position, or stiff movement in which your finger” straightens up” suddenly.

Trigger finger can affect one or more fingers, and any finger can develop the condition, including the thumb. “Trigger finger in diabetics is also more likely to occur in both hands and multiple fingers,” writes the Merivale Hand Clinic, a New Zealand-based group of hand therapy specialists.

Regardless of the severity of your condition, it is important to mention any abnormalities to your doctor. “If you have stiffness, pinching, numbness, or pain in a finger joint, or if you cannot straighten or bend a finger, make an appointment with your doctor,” the Mayo Clinic advises.

Close up of woman hands pain discomfort

Diabetes can significantly increase your chances of developing TF. However, other factors such as your age and gender can also increase your chances of experiencing this particular symptom.

According to the CRMM study, women are six times more likely to develop trigger finger than their male counterparts. Additionally, trigger finger symptoms usually appear in patients in their 40s, 50s and 60s, experts say. The average age of onset of symptoms is 58, according to a 2019 study in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (PRS).

Finally, people with certain other conditions may be at increased risk for trigger finger, writes Health Line. These can include carpal tunnel syndrome, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, amyloidosis, among others.

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Close up of doctor vaccinating young man at home for covid-19 vaccination.  Female doctor's hand holding syringe to prepare Covid-19 vaccine.

People with TF may have both surgical and nonsurgical options for treatment. “Corticosteroid injections decrease the thickness of the A1 pulley and are considered a first-line treatment,” explains the PRS study. “However, corticosteroids are only moderately effective, especially for people with diabetes. Patients may opt for surgery if nonoperative treatments prove ineffective; some may choose immediate surgical release instead,” explain the researchers.

If you do develop a trigger finger, you should bring it to the attention of your doctor, both to identify the underlying causes and to learn about the full range of treatment options that may be available to you.

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