Trigger Finger

Trigger Finger

(Stenosing Tenosynovitis; Volar Flexor Tenosynovitis)

Definition

Trigger finger is when a finger or thumb is locked in a bent position. It happens from swelling of the sheath that encloses the tendons of the thumb and fingers. This makes it hard for the tendon to move.

Trigger Finger

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Causes

This problem is caused by swelling of the sheath that encloses the tendons of the thumb and fingers. This makes it hard for the tendons to move. The exact cause of the swelling is not always known.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in women, and in people aged 60 and older. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Overuse of the hand from repetitive motions
  • Inflammatory problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Chronic health problems, such as renal insufficiency, diabetes, and thyroid disease

Symptoms

Problems may be:

  • Finger or thumb stuck in bent position
  • Finger, thumb, or hand pain
  • Problems with grip strength
  • Clicking, catching, or locking when straightening the finger or thumb
  • Finger or thumb stiffness
  • Swelling or a lump in the palm

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the hand. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. Some people may need to see a doctor who treats hands.

Treatment

It will take several weeks for most people to heal. The goals of treatment are to ease pain and swelling. This may include:

  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling
  • A brace or splint to support the finger or thumb
  • Exercises to help with flexibility

Surgery

Some people may need surgery when other methods do not help. A small incision will be made in the hand. The tendon will be released from the locked position.

Prevention

There are no known guidelines to prevent this problem.

RESOURCES:

Hand Care—American Society for Surgery of the Hand
http://handcare.assh.org
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://www.orthoinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Arthritis Society
http://www.arthritis.ca

References:

Adams JE, Habbu R. Tendinopathies of the Hand and Wrist. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2015 Dec;23(12):741-750.
Trigger finger. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/trigger-finger. Updated March 2018. Accessed December 6, 2019.
Trigger finger (stenosing tenosynovitis) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname... . Updated July 26, 2019. Accessed December 6, 2019.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS
Last Updated: 12/6/2019

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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