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Trigger Finger

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 2, 2022.

What is trigger finger?

Trigger finger is when your finger or thumb gets stuck in a bent position and snaps, pops, or clicks when you straighten it.

What causes trigger finger?

Trigger finger is caused by narrowing of the tendon sheath. The tendon sheath is the tunnel that your tendon slides through when you bend or straighten your finger. A tendon is strong tissue that attaches muscle to bone. When the tendon sheath narrows, the tendon does not slide as easily. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or arthritis, may increase your risk of trigger finger.

What are the signs and symptoms of trigger finger?

  • Clicking, snapping, or popping noise when you move your finger
  • Finger stuck in a bent position
  • Pain
  • Swelling and stiffness
  • A bump at the base of your finger

How is trigger finger diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your health history and examine your finger. He will ask about your signs and symptoms and have you bend and straighten your finger.

How is trigger finger treated?

  • Medicines:
    • NSAIDs: These medicines decrease pain and swelling. NSAIDs can be bought without a doctor's order. Ask which medicine is right for you and how much to take. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems if not taken correctly.
    • Steroid injection: This medicine helps decrease inflammation. It is given as a shot into your finger. You may need more than 1 injection.
  • Splint: You may need to wear a splint for up to 6 weeks to keep your finger straight. This will help your finger joints rest and prevent you from bending your finger while you sleep.
  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.
  • Tendon release: This is surgery to cut open a small piece of the tendon sheath so that your tendon can slide smoothly. Your healthcare provider may do this through an incision or with a needle.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What are the risks of trigger finger?

Splinting may not decrease your signs and symptoms. Steroid injections or tendon release surgery may damage the tendon or nerves in your finger. After tendon release surgery, your finger may be stiff, painful, or weak. Your finger may be bruised and you may get an infection. Your signs and symptoms may return, even after treatment. Without treatment, your symptoms can get worse. Your finger may become locked in the bent position.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your symptoms do not go away or they return, even after treatment.
  • The pain, swelling, or stiffness interferes with your daily activities.
  • You have more trouble moving your finger.
  • Your finger is tingling.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You cannot move your finger at all.
  • Your finger is numb.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.