Trigger Finger / Thumb

Trigger finger or thumb, medically known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition where your finger or thumb gets stuck in a bent position. Your finger or thumb may straighten with a snap, like a trigger being pulled and released, hence the name.

Trigger finger occurs when inflammation narrows the space within the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger or thumb. If severe, the finger may become locked in a bent position. Individuals whose work or hobbies require repetitive gripping actions are at higher risk.

Symptoms

Symptoms of trigger finger/thumb include:

  • Finger stiffness, particularly in the morning
  • A popping or clicking sensation as you move your finger
  • Tenderness or a bump (nodule) at the base of the affected finger
  • Finger catching or locking in a bent position, which suddenly pops straight
  • Finger locked in a bent position, which you are unable to straighten

Diagnosis

  • Physical Examination: A doctor will assess the affected area, checking for lumps or tenderness.
  • Medical History: Sharing symptoms and lifestyle habits can help in diagnosis.

Prevention

Prevention methods include:

  • Regular stretching and strengthening exercises for the hand
  • Avoiding repetitive gripping actions
  • Using ergonomic equipment

Treatment

Treatment options for Trigger Finger include:

  • Rest and Splinting: Avoiding activities that require repetitive gripping, repeated grasping or the prolonged use of vibrating hand-held machinery may help. Wearing a splint at night to keep the affected finger in an extended position can help rest the finger.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): These can relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Therapy: Stretching exercises may help maintain mobility in the finger.
  • Steroid Injection: This is usually the first line of treatment. The medication can relieve symptoms by reducing inflammation and swelling.
  • Surgery: If the condition is severe or doesn’t respond to other treatments, surgery may be performed to release the locked finger. The surgeon cuts the constricted section of the tendon sheath, allowing the tendon to glide freely again.