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Trigger Finger

When one of your fingers is stuck in a bent position, you likely have trigger finger. The affected finger gets that name as it may straighten or bend with a snap, much like a trigger being pulled and released. It most often occurs in the ring finger and thumb (called “trigger thumb”), causing pain and stiffness. In severe cases of trigger finger, the digit becomes locked in a bent position.

What causes it?

The exact cause of trigger finger is unknown, but a number of factors may contribute to its development:

  • The presence of certain medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes
  • Prolonged gripping or repetitive hand use
  • Complications associated with carpal tunnel syndrome surgery
  • Sex: Women are more commonly affected

How do you know you have it?

The most common symptoms of trigger finger include:

  • The development of a tender lump at the base of the affected finger, palm side
  • A finger movement that results in a locking or catching sensation
  • Pain either in straightening or bending the finger
  • Numbness
  • Stiffness; in severe case, the finger will lock in a bent position

How we fix it

The OSI hand and wrist team is here to listen, discuss your concerns, and examine you for signs and symptoms of trigger finger. While you’re under our expert care, you will undergo the following to determine the best course of care:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor will be able to diagnose a trigger finger by asking you about your symptoms and through a careful examination of your hand, testing for tenderness in the palm of your hand, inflammation of the tendon sheath, and triggering when bending and straightening your finger.

Nonsurgical Treatment

The treatment approaches for trigger finger are generally nonsurgical.

  • Rest: The issue with trigger finger may resolve itself through rest and avoiding activities that aggravate the condition.
  • Splinting: At night, keeping the affected digit in a straight position by wearing a splint may prove helpful.
  • Medications: Nonsteroidal medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen help relieve inflammation.
  • Exercise: Decrease stiffness and improve range of motion with exercises (gentle).
  • Steroid injections: Cortisone injections at the base of the trigger finger may eliminate triggering.

Surgical Treatment

If nonsurgical approaches do not yield the intended results, surgery is a consideration. This decision is most often based on pain levels and loss of function, or if the finger or thumb is stuck in a fixed position.

  • Trigger finger release is an outpatient surgical procedure done with a local anesthesia, an injection that numbs the affected area. Expect several months of post-surgical swelling and stiffness before the issue is resolved.

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