How does trigger finger manifest, and how is it treated?

If you suffer from trigger finger, your finger or fingers get stuck when bent.

Trigger fingers are painful, and they are caused by inflamed tendons. Symptoms may develop gradually and are more intense in the morning or late at night, and usually include:

  • finger stiffness, swelling, numbness, or pain
  • restricted hand movement
  • a popping sensation when moving the finger
  • tenderness or a palpable nodule in the palm
  • finger locked in a bent position which suddenly straightens
  • inability to keep the finger straight

To diagnose trigger finger is quite simple and doesn't require elaborate testing. Your doctor makes the diagnosis based on a physical exam:

  • asking you to open and close your hand
  • checking the painful areas, smoothness of motion, evidence of locking
  • examining your palm to see if there is a lump present

Trigger fingers require rest, and a splint might be necessary to limit joint movement. The patient will receive pain relievers and, possibly, steroid injections.

Trigger finger treatment methods

There are different types of treatments for trigger finger, depending on the severity and duration. Non-invasive treatments may include:

  • rest: activities that require repetitive gripping, grasping, or the use of vibrating hand-held machinery have to be avoided until the condition improves
  • wearing a splint: wearing one at night keeps the affected finger in an extended position, limits the joint movement, and helps the tendon to rest
  • stretching exercises: specific, gentle exercises are recommended to help maintain the mobility of the finger

Other effective procedures

If your symptoms are severe or if conservative treatments do not bring the expected results, your doctor might suggest:

  • medication: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may relieve the pain but are unlikely to ease the swelling constricting the tendon sheath or trapping the tendon
  • steroid injections: to reduce inflammation and allow the tendon to move freely again. This is usually effective for a year or more in most people treated
  • percutaneous release: is performed under ultrasound control, so the doctor can be sure that he opens the tendon sheath without damaging the nerves or the tendon
  • surgical procedure: hand and wrist surgery is the ultimate solution when nothing else is working. Through a small incision near the base of your affected finger, the surgeon will cut open the constricted section of the tendon sheath

Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.