A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Answering your questions about trigger finger

Image of woman holding her finger - trigger finger

Trigger finger is an often painful condition that impacts the tendons in your fingers or thumbs – preventing them from moving smoothly through their passageway/tunnels to the end of the digit.

Trigger finger is an often painful condition that impacts the tendons in your fingers or thumbs – preventing them from moving smoothly through their passageway/tunnels to the end of the digit.

It can affect any finger on your hand and is also called stenosing tensynovitis.

If you have trigger finger, you may experience a painful click or snap when you try to move your finger, swelling and a feeling as though your finger is ‘coming out of its joint’ when it gets stuck or releases. While this may sound very worrying – fear not – the condition is curable.

“Individuals with trigger finger or trigger thumb should know that their condition can almost always be eradicated,” said orthopedic hand surgeon Dr. Steven Sanford. “This frequently can be accomplished without surgery.”

Here are 3 things to know about trigger finger:

Are there any risk factors?

Sanford said that most individuals with trigger finger do not have an identifiable cause and that it affects women and men equally. The condition can be seen in infants, typically involving the thumb.

“Some risk factors include any condition that promotes inflammation or swelling, such as diabetes, rheumatologic disorders or even pregnancy,” Sanford explained. “Activities that require highly forceful repetitive pinching or grasping can contribute to the condition.”

How is trigger finger treated?

Sanford notes that many adult patients with the condition can be successfully treated without surgery. Pediatric patients with trigger thumbs usually require surgery.

“Oral anti-inflammatory medications may be an option for early disease,” he said. “Corticosteroid injection can be curative for many individuals.”

When surgery is needed, Sanford said that surgical trigger release is a rewarding, quick outpatient surgery that is nearly 100% effective at relieving symptoms.

What does recovery after the surgery look like?

If surgery such as trigger release takes place to treat stenosing tensynovitis, limited early motion is encouraged at first.

“I usually have individuals avoid more aggressive activities until their postoperative appointment at around two weeks from the time of surgery,” Sanford said. “Mild residual soreness and scarring takes some time to fully resolve.”

If you want to learn more about trigger finger or are worried you may have it, schedule an appointment with your provider.

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