Trigger finger occurs when a finger or thumb gets stuck in a bent position, as if you were squeezing a trigger. Once it gets unstuck, the finger pops straight out, like a trigger being released.
In severe cases, the finger cannot be straightened. Surgery is needed to correct it.
Digital stenosing tenosynovitis; Trigger digit; Trigger finger release; Locked finger; Digital flexor tenosynovitis
What is a Trigger Finger?
Tendons connect muscles to bones. When you tighten a muscle, it pulls on the tendon, and this causes the bone to move.
The tendons that move your finger slide through a tendon sheath (tunnel) as you bend your finger.
About Trigger Finger
If you have a trigger finger:
Trigger finger can occur in both children and adults. It is more common in people who:
Trigger finger is diagnosed by medical history and a physical exam. Trigger finger usually does not require x-rays or lab tests. You can have more than one trigger finger and it can develop in both hands.
Treating Trigger Finger Without Surgery
In mild cases, the goal is to decrease swelling in the tunnel.
Self-care management mainly includes:
Your provider may also give you a shot of a medicine called cortisone. The shot goes into the tunnel that the tendon goes through. This can help reduce swelling. Your provider may try a second shot if the first one does not work.
Surgery for Trigger Finger
You may need surgery if your finger is locked in a bent position or does not get better with other treatment. The surgery is done under local anesthesia or a nerve block. This prevents pain. You may be awake during surgery.
During the surgery your surgeon will:
When to Call the Doctor
If you notice signs of infection, call your surgeon right away. Signs of infection include:
If your trigger finger returns, call your surgeon. You may need another surgery.
Bengtson KA, Silver JK. Trigger finger. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 37.
Wolfe SW. Tendinopathy. In: Wolfe SW, Hotchkiss RN, Pederson WC, Kozin SH, Cohen MS, eds. Green's Operative Hand Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 56.
Review Date: 4/9/2018
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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