Radial extracorporeal shockwave therapy for the treatment of finger tenosynovitis (trigger digit)

Open Access J Sports Med. 2016 Oct 31;7:143-151. doi: 10.2147/OAJSM.S108126. eCollection 2016.


Introduction: Stenosing tenosynovitis that is characterized by the inability to flex the digit smoothly, usually leads to prolonged rehabilitation or surgery.

Study design: This case series is a retrospective cohort study.

Purpose: The aim of this case series was to evaluate the effectiveness of radial extracorporeal shockwave therapy (rESWT) for the treatment of stenosing tenosynovitis of the digital flexor tendon (trigger digit).

Methods: A retrospective analysis of 44 patients (49 fingers) treated with an individually adapted rESWT protocol was conducted. Trigger digit pain and function were evaluated at baseline and 1-, 3-, and 12-months posttreatment. Recurrence and pretreatment symptom duration were analyzed.

Results: Significant reductions in pain scores and functional improvement were found between baseline and all follow-up assessments (P<0.001). Pretreatment symptom duration was significantly correlated with the number of rESWT sessions required (r=0.776, P<0.001) and 1-year posttreatment pain score (r=0.335, P=0.019).

Conclusion: This study provides initial evidence that rESWT is an effective treatment for trigger digit, but randomised controlled trials are required to provide further evidence of this effect.

Keywords: conservative treatment; non-surgical therapy; physiotherapy; shockwave therapy; tendon; trigger finger; trigger thumb.