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Trigger Finger

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Stenosing tenosynovitis, more commonly referred to as trigger finger, is when a finger or thumb is stuck in a bent position and then straightens with a pop, like a trigger being pulled back and released. If trigger finger is severe enough, the finger may become locked in a bent position. There are tendons in the hand which, acting like long ropes, bend the finger and connect the muscles in the forearm to the bones in the fingers and thumb. Trigger finger occurs when a pulley at the base of the finger starts to narrow around the tendon, making it hard to move freely. Sometimes the tendon can develop a small bump or become swollen. When this happens, both the pulley and the tendon can lock and become irritated. As the tendon and pulley become irritated, they both swell, becoming painful and occasionally locking the finger during normal hand movements.

Trigger Finger Causes

The cause for the development of trigger finger is not clear but there are risk factors that put people at risk:

  • Women are more likely to have trigger finger
  • Trigger finger occurs mostly in people between the ages of 40-60 years old
  • Trigger finger are more commonly found in people who are suffering from certain medical problems like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Trigger finger may happen after activities that strain the hand

Symptoms of Trigger Finger

Most of the time trigger finger develops suddenly and without a known cause, although it has been known to occur after heavy hand use. Usually the dominant hand is affected, and the thumb, middle and ring finger are most often affected. Sometime more than one finger is bent at a time, and both hands may be affected at the same time. Symptoms that are common are:

  • A tender lump at the base of the affected finger
  • Inability to straighten the bent finger
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • A catching or popping sensation in the fingers or thumb
  • Pain when bending or straightening the finger
  • Stiffness, especially upon awakening

Trigger Finger Treatment

Milder cases of trigger finger may be treated with conservative treatment. Some of the methods which may prove effective before pursuing more aggressive therapy include:

  • Resting the affected finger(s) and immobilizing the area with a splint or brace.
  • Avoiding repetitive use, including activities such as gardening, racquet sports or some occupational activities.
  • Soaking the hand in warm water.
  • Massaging the affected area.
  • NSAID over-the-counter drugs.
  • Steroid injection to the tendons.

Surgical Treatment

There are many ways to treat trigger finger, however, if the condition is severe enough, surgery may be required if other treatments don’t work. The surgery is meant to widen the opening of the pulley or tunnel that the tendon is getting stuck on. A small incision is made on the palm and the tunnel is cut. This cut makes the tunnel wider as it heals and prevents the tendon from becoming stuck. Once the damage has been repaired, doctors will stitch the incisions closed and bandage the area. Even though the surgery is minimally invasive, it is important to understand all of the risks and to follow the doctor’s instructions.


Like with any surgery, there are risks involved that patients need to be aware of, risks like:

  • Infection
  • Nerve and blood vessel damage
  • Residual clicking
  • Stiffness
  • Death

Trigger finger causing pain and frustration? It's time to get real, long-lasting results with minimally invasive procedures from board certified physicians nearby! To find out more about trigger fingers causes and treatment options available, call our West Medical offices at (855) 690-0565.

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