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Trigger Finger

Trigger Finger

What is Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger is the inflammation and thickening of tendon sheaths the tunnel-like structures that hold the tendons to the bone in the fingers and thumb. If left untreated, the tendon may also become inflamed and develop a nodule. When this happens, the tendon can no longer slide through the sheath smoothly when bending the affected finger creating a catching or popping sensation, especially when the nodule passes through the sheath.

Causes | Symptoms | Treatment | Prevention

Where can you get Trigger Finger?

You can get trigger finger in one or more digits, meaning any finger as well as your thumbs.

What Causes Trigger Finger?

There is no consensus as to the exact cause of trigger finger, however, there are some activities that can increase your likelihood of developing it such as repetitive movements and:

  • Hobbies: That require gripping or holding a small tool for long periods of time, or repetitive hand use like playing an instrument, writing by hand, gaming or rocking climbing
  • Occupation: Jobs that require extensive or forceful hand use like long-distance truck driving, farming, and industrial workers
  • Chronic conditions: Having diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout can increase your chances of developing trigger finger
  • Gender: Trigger finger is more common in women
  • Age: Trigger finger is more common in people aged 40 to 60 years
  • Surgery: Trigger finger is a known complication from from carpal tunnel syndrome surgery

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Trigger Finger?

In a normally functioning hand, tendons smoothly glide through the sheaths to the fingers to straighten and bend them. When the tendons or the sheaths become inflamed from trigger finger, the tendon can no longer slide through the sheath smoothly when bending the affected finger.

The most common symptoms of trigger finger (also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, or trigger thumb) are stiff painful digits that feeling like they’re locking or catching when bent. Trigger finger is a progressive condition that can get worse if its not treated. Typical symptoms include:

  • Painless clicking, popping or a catching sensation when bending the fingers or thumbs
  • Stiffness and swelling (especially in the morning)
  • Inability to fully bend or extend the affected digit
  • Finger or thumb gets locked in a flexed position
  • A painful, tender bump on the palm (known as a nodule) at the base of the affected thumb
  • Pain that radiates to the palm
  • A popping, snapping or clicking sensation when you move your thumb
  • Your fingers or thumbs catch or lock in a bent position, then suddenly goes straight
  • Your thumb locks in a bent position, and you can’t straighten it
  • Pain when you bend or straighten your thumb that improves with movement and worsens with rest

Trigger finger and trigger thumb can be treated in several ways depending on the severity. Both conservative non-invasive treatments and surgery are common, including:

Can you prevent Trigger Finger?

If you have a higher risk of developing trigger finger you can help prevent it by taking frequent breaks from activities that put forceful pressure on your hands, holding small tools, or using vibrating hand-held machinery.