I have developed a very annoying trigger finger. It simply won't straighten out. With my job as a waitress it's becoming a real problem. My doctor offered to inject it with steroids. Aren't steroids really harmful? Should I do it?

Steroids do have some dangerous side effects. Most of the time these occur when patients have to take oral steroids for a long period of time. When steroids are injected, the side effects are much less serious.

In the case of a bothersome trigger finger, corticosteroid injection is a very common treatment used. It works well and gives long-lasting relief from the triggering symptoms. Sometimes patients get good results after only one injection. In other cases it may take up to three injections.

There is one thing to think about. Studies show that patients who wait four to six months or more before getting injected have less success with injections. Sometimes it takes longer to work and requires more injections. The reason for this is the build up of scar tissue and fibrocartilage. Steroids can't always reverse this.

Reference: 

Mark Ryzewicz, MD, and Jennifer Moriatis Wolf, MD. Trigger Digits: Principles, Management, and Complications. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. January 2006. Vol. 31A. No. 1. Pp. 135-146.

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