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Trigger Finger

What is trigger finger?

Trigger finger is a condition in which it is difficult to straighten a finger (or fingers) once bent. The medical term for trigger finger is stenosing tenosynovitis.

How does it occur?

A tendon is a band of strong fibrous tissue that connects a muscle to a bone. Tendons are covered by a protective sheath and glide easily through the sheath. Trigger finger can be caused by swelling of the sheath, or a by knot in the tendon that causes it to catch on the sheath.

What are the symptoms of trigger finger?

Symptoms include:

  • a snapping sensation (triggering) in the affected finger or fingers
  • inability to extend the finger smoothly or at all (it may lock in place while bent, then straighten with a sudden jerk or triggering motion)
  • tenderness to the touch over the tendon, usually at the base of the finger or palm
  • soreness in the affected finger or fingers

How is trigger finger diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will review your symptoms and examine you.

How is trigger finger treated?

To treat this condition:

  • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables, wrapped in a cloth on the area every 3 to 4 hours, for up to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen, or other medicine as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.
  • Your provider may give you an injection of a corticosteroid medicine or a local anesthetic.

If necessary, surgery will be done to remove part of the tendon sheath.

How long do the effects of last?

The severity of trigger finger varies from person to person. Although response to treatment varies, results are usually good. It is best to discuss progress with your healthcare provider on a regular basis. Surgery for this condition is usually very successful.

When can I return to my normal activities?

You may return to your normal activities with a trigger finger as long as there is not too much pain.

How can I take care of myself?

Follow your healthcare provider's instructions. It helps to rest and limit the activity of the affected finger or fingers and of the hand and wrist.

What can I do to help prevent trigger finger?

Since the cause of trigger finger is unknown, there is no reliable way to prevent this condition.


Disclaimer: This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.


HIA File orre3251.htm Release 13/2010

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