Trigger Finger and Lupus: Is There a Relationship?

Are trigger finger and lupus associated? If so, why does lupus cause trigger finger? These are common questions asked by patients who suffer from lupus and experience trigger finger. Learning more about each shows that the systemic changes that take place because of lupus may result in lupus patients experiencing trigger finger, but why?

What is Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger is a term used to describe stenosing tenosynovitis. This condition is characterized by a “snapping” condition of any hand digits when closed or opened. When a patient has trigger finger, their middle, index, or ring finger is affected. When he or she is trying to flex closed while gripping, the finger will stutter and then snap closed instead of a continual smooth closure. The thumb may also be affected. Near the palm of the hand, the base of the finger may also be painful during closure.

What is Lupus?

Lupus, better known as systemic lupus erythematosus, is a condition referred to as a chronic autoimmune disorder. There are several types of lupus, but this type is most often associated with trigger finger. Lupus may affect just about any external or internal body structure, such as the joints, kidneys, skin, and other organs. With lupus, the body’s immune response is not working properly resulting in the immune system attacking healthy tissues and cells due to being overactive. Chronic inflammation results. What causes lupus is unknown and the severity of the disease varies greatly. The signs and symptoms ultimately depend on which organs and body structures are affected. Symptoms can range from a rash to psychosis. Almost everyone with lupus will experience swelling and pain in their joints. The joints most often affected include the hands, wrists, fingers, and knees. Arthritis may also occur.

Relationship Between Trigger Finger and Lupus

Trigger finger and lupus are associated with the tendons and how lupus affects them. Lupus can cause tendon inflammation, and this inflammation can result in a tightening of the tendons. This tightening can cause the fingers to be pulled into unusual positions. Trigger finger is not a common symptom of lupus.

Treatment Options

Trigger finger can be treated in a number of ways. Patients can ice and stretch the affected finger. Certain medications may also be helpful, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and diclofenac. A treatment that is both effective and often quick to work is a local cortisone injection. This injection is administered around the affected tendon. A cortisone injection will be effective for most patients. If two cortisone injections do not effectively treat this condition, surgery may be needed. A surgical procedure to remove any scarred tissue or inflamed tissue may be considered.

Resources

MedlinePlus. (2010). Systemic Lupus Erythematosis. Retrieved on November 19, 2010 from MedlinePlus: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000435.htm

Lupus Foundation of America. (2010). The Musculoskeletal System. Retrieved on November 19, 2010 from the Lupus Foundation of America: https://www.lupus.org/webmodules/webarticlesnet/templates/new_learnaffects.aspx?articleid=2322&zoneid=526