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Guide to Trigger Finger

What is Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger is a condition characterised whereby one of your fingers gets stuck in a bent position. The finger may straighten or bend with difficulty followed by a snap.

The signs and symptoms of trigger finger will vary depending on the severity however these are the more common symptoms that you may experience:

  • Popping or clicking feeling when you try and move the affected finger
  • Finger that is locked in bent position without being able to straighten it
  • Stiffness that is worse in the morning
  • Feeling of a nodule or bump in the palm at the base of the affected finger
  • Finger that catches or pops when trying to bend and straighten it.

What causes Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger is caused by inflammation which narrows the space within the sheath which surrounds the tendon in which moves your finger. Depending on the severity of the inflammation your finger may be locked in one position without the ability to move it.
People whom working in settings where repetitive gripping actions are required are at more risk of developing trigger finger. It is also more common in females and in those whom have diabetes.
It can affect any finger in the hand including the thumb. There is a possibility of more than one finger being affected at the same time.

How is Trigger Finger diagnosed?

The diagnosis of trigger finger doesn’t require any special tests. The practitioner will make the diagnosis based on your presenting symptoms and from the physical examination that they will carry out. The examination will consist of asking you to bend and straighten your finger while they check for areas of pain, nodules that will move with finger movements and evidence of any locking.

How is Trigger Finger treated?

The treatment for trigger finger will depend on its severity. Anti-inflammatory medications may help reduce the pain but are unlikely to reduce the swelling that is causing the snapping and restrictive movements.
The conservative approach will consist of the following therapies:

  • Wearing a splint for the affected finger to be in an extended position while you sleep to help rest the tendons for up to 6 weeks.
  • Avoiding activities that require repetitive gripping or prolonged use of vibrating machinery until symptoms reduce.
  • Stretching exercises to help maintain the mobility in the finger

If your symptoms are severe or conservative management hasn’t helped reduce your symptoms your clinician may suggest steroid injection that is done in house by our sports doctor using ultrasound-guided injection. Small amounts of corticosteroid injection is injected near the area of inflammation and thickening with the aim of reducing the swelling. This is the most common treatment and is usually very effective.


Frontera WR. Trigger finger. In: Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. Accessed Aug. 16, 2017.
Ferri FF. Trigger finger. In: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor 2017. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2017. Accessed Aug. 16, 2017.
Giugale JM, Fowler JR. Trigger Finger: Adult and Pediatric Treatment Strategies. Orthop Clin North Am. 2015 Oct;46(4):561-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ocl.2015.06.014. Epub 2015 Aug 13. PMID: 26410644.

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