What is a Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger, which is also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a painful condition in which the finger gets stuck in a bent position.  It occurs when an inflammation narrows the space within the sheath (the tissue that covers the tendon) that surrounds the tendon of the affected finger.

The condition is common in people who frequently engage in activities that require repetitive gripping action. These include farmers, musicians, and industrial workers. The trigger finger is also seen to be more common in women and in those with diabetes.

Symptoms of a Trigger Finger

Initially, a person develops soreness at the base of the affected finger. This is eventually accompanied by painful clicking or snapping sensation when the finger is bent or straightened. In some cases, the finger can be locked in a bent or straight position.

Diagnosing a Trigger Finger

To diagnose a trigger finger, the doctor has to review one’s medical history and assess the patient’s affected hand. In most cases, there’s no need for imaging tests such as x-rays to confirm the diagnosis.

How It Is Treated

The treatment for trigger finger will depend on the severity of the symptoms. If the symptoms are mild, then the nonsurgical treatment options can suffice.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Some of the nonsurgical treatment options for trigger finger include rest, medications, and steroid injections.

  • Rest
    Mild cases of trigger finger can be managed with rest. The doctor may recommend the use of a splint to keep the finger in a neutral position.
  • Medications
    The pain or discomfort can be alleviated with the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Steroid Injections
    In some cases, the doctor may recommend steroid injections into the tendon sheath. Sometimes, a second injection is needed to improve one’s symptoms.

Surgical Treatment

Although trigger finger is not life-threatening, surgery may be recommended if the symptoms are severe. Surgery may also be suggested to prevent permanent stiffness.

The goal of the surgery for trigger finger is to widen the opening of the tunnel in order for the tendon to slide through it more easily. The procedure is usually done on an outpatient basis.