What Is Trigger Finger?

Picture of a woman with trigger finger sitting on a couch and holding her hand.

Also referred to as “stenosing tenosynovitis,” trigger finger occurs when a finger or thumb locks and becomes stuck in a bent position. Any of the fingers can be affected, but this issue tends to most commonly occur in the ring finger and the thumb. True to its name, trigger finger causes the affected finger to look as if it’s squeezing a trigger when it’s stuck. And when the finger finally straightens, it may snap back into its normal position as a trigger would when released.

Trigger Finger Causes

Trigger finger develops when the sheath surrounding the affected finger’s flexor tendon becomes irritated and inflamed. When this occurs, it leaves the tendon with less space to move around and prevents it from smoothly gliding back and forth as it normally would. If the inflammation is left untreated, it can produce scarring and cause bumps to form along the tendon, leading to even greater problems.

Trigger Finger Risk Factors

One of the main risk factors that can increase a person’s chances of developing trigger finger is having a job or hobby that requires repetitive and/or prolonged gripping motions. Other trigger finger risk factors include:

  • Being a woman
  • Having diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or certain other conditions
  • Having undergone surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome

It’s important to remember that these risk factors simply increase a person’s chances of developing trigger finger, so having one or more does not mean that someone will definitely experience this condition. Conversely, some individuals acquire trigger finger without having any known risk factors.

Trigger Finger Symptoms

As was noted above, the primary symptom of trigger finger is that the affected finger gets stuck in place when bent. This tends to happen most often in the morning and when straightening the affected finger or firmly grasping something. Other potential symptoms include:

  • Pain when bending or straightening the affected finger
  • Finger stiffness (this is often more pronounced in the morning)
  • A clicking, popping, or locking sensation when moving the affected finger
  • A bump and/or tenderness at the base of the affected finger, on the palm side of the hand

Because trigger finger symptoms tend to worsen over time, it’s important to promptly seek treatment.

Trigger Finger Treatment

Treatment for trigger finger varies from one patient to another based on numerous factors, including the severity of the condition and how long the person has been experiencing symptoms. Trigger finger treatment options include:

  • Taking pain medication and/or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Undergoing corticosteroid injections
  • Splinting the affected finger while sleeping
  • Performing gentle stretching exercises
  • Making certain lifestyle changes (for example, avoiding repetitive gripping motions or wearing padded gloves when performing those motions)
  • Undergoing surgery

Industry-Leading Trigger Finger Treatment Near You

If you’re in Durham, NC, or the surrounding area, you won’t need to venture far to receive first-class trigger finger treatment. That’s because you can turn to North Carolina Orthopaedic Clinic, a renowned provider that’s been treating trigger finger and various other hand conditions since 2003. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of the experienced orthopedists on our team.