Trigger Finger

Trigger Finger: Understanding the Pain

Trigger finger, medically known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that affects the tendons in the fingers or thumb, causing them to catch or lock in a bent position. This common hand condition can be painful and interfere with everyday activities. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the causes, symptoms, conservative treatment options, and when surgery may be necessary for trigger finger.

What is Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger occurs when the flexor tendons in the hand become inflamed or swollen, making it difficult for them to glide smoothly through the tendon sheath. As a result, the affected finger may snap or catch when bent or straightened, resembling the action of pulling and releasing a trigger. While any finger can be affected, it most commonly occurs in the thumb, middle, or ring finger.

Causes of Trigger Finger

The exact cause of trigger finger is not always clear, but several factors may contribute to its development, including:

  • Repetitive hand or finger movements, such as gripping or grasping activities
  • Prolonged or forceful use of the fingers, especially in occupations that involve repetitive motions
  • Medical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, or inflammatory disorders, which may predispose individuals to tendon inflammation
  • Trauma or injury to the hand or finger, leading to swelling or damage to the tendon sheath

Symptoms of Trigger Finger

The symptoms of trigger finger typically include:

  • Pain or discomfort at the base of the affected finger
  • Stiffness or swelling in the finger or thumb
  • Catching, popping, or locking sensation when moving the finger
  • Difficulty straightening or bending the affected finger, especially after periods of inactivity
  • A visible or palpable lump or nodule near the affected tendon sheath

Conservative Treatment Options

In many cases, trigger finger can be effectively managed with conservative treatment measures, which may include:

  • Rest: Avoiding activities that aggravate symptoms and resting the affected hand or finger to allow inflammation to subside.
  • Splinting: Wearing a splint or brace to immobilize the affected finger and reduce strain on the inflamed tendon.
  • Finger exercises: Performing gentle stretching and range-of-motion exercises to improve flexibility and reduce stiffness in the affected finger.
  • Heat and ice therapy: Applying heat packs or cold packs to the affected area to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications: Taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Corticosteroid injections: Receiving corticosteroid injections directly into the tendon sheath to reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms.

When Surgery May Be Required

If conservative treatments fail to provide relief or if symptoms persist and interfere with daily activities, surgery may be recommended to release the tight tendon sheath and allow the tendon to move more freely. The surgical procedure, known as trigger finger release, involves making a small incision in the affected tendon sheath to widen the tunnel and alleviate pressure on the tendon. This outpatient procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia and has a high success rate in resolving symptoms.


Trigger finger is a common hand condition characterized by catching, popping, or locking of the fingers or thumb. This is due to inflammation of the tendon sheath. While it can be painful and debilitating, many cases can be effectively managed with conservative treatment options such as rest, splinting, exercises, and medication. However, if symptoms persist or worsen, surgical intervention may be necessary to release the tight tendon sheath and restore normal finger movement. If you’re experiencing symptoms of trigger finger, consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations tailored to your individual needs. With prompt and appropriate care, you can alleviate pain, improve hand function, and regain control of your daily activities.

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