Causes of Trigger Finger

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If you’re experiencing finger stiffness, sudden popping or clicking sensations, and/or difficulty straightening your fingers entirely—you may have a condition known as trigger finger. Trigger finger is an orthopedic disorder that affects the tendons in your fingertips, causing them to snag within the sheath when bending and unbending.

In this blog post, we’ll take an in-depth look at what causes trigger finger and how it can be treated through various conservative treatments such as steroid injections, physical therapy exercises and techniques, or surgery.

If you are looking for orthopedic treatment, contact JIS Orthopedics. We treat many conditions affecting the hand, including trigger finger. You can find us in New Albany and St. Clairsville, Ohio.

What is Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger is a condition that affects the tendons in your fingers and thumb, leading to sensations of locking or catching when you try to bend or straighten them. This issue can also cause pain and stiffness in your fingers and thumb. It is medically known as stenosing tenosynovitis.

While the ring finger and thumb are the most commonly affected digits, it can impact any of your fingers. When the condition affects the thumb, it is called trigger thumb.

What Triggers Trigger Finger?

The exact causes of trigger finger are not fully understood, but several factors can increase your risk of developing this hand condition. Some of these factors include:

  • Medical Conditions: Trigger finger is more prevalent in individuals with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Forceful Hand Activities: Engaging in activities that involve forceful use of your fingers and thumbs can lead to trigger finger.
  • Age: This condition is more common among older individuals and is rare in children. However, congenital trigger thumb can cause thumb flexion issues in children.

How Do I Know If I Have Trigger Finger?

Symptoms of trigger finger typically start gradually and may not be associated with a specific injury. They often follow periods of heavy hand use, especially activities that require pinching and grasping. Common symptoms include:

  • A tender lump at the base of the affected finger or thumb on the palm side.
  • A sensation of catching, popping, or locking when you move your finger or thumb.
  • Pain when bending or straightening your finger.
  • In severe cases, the finger can get stuck in the bent position

Stiffness and locking tend to be more pronounced after periods of inactivity, such as upon waking in the morning. Symptoms often improve throughout the day with consistent, gentle use of the hand.

How to Diagnose Trigger Finger

In most cases, your doctor can diagnose trigger finger based on your symptoms and a physical examination of your hand. Typically, additional tests like X-rays are not necessary. During the examination, your doctor will look for:

  • Tenderness over the flexor tendon sheath in your palm.
  • Thickening or swelling of the tendon sheath at the base of your affected finger or thumb.
  • A clicking or catching sensation when you bend and straighten your finger or thumb.

Trigger Finger Treatment

Initial treatment for trigger finger is usually non-surgical and may include the following:

  • Rest: Give your hand a break and avoid activities that exacerbate the issue.
  • Trigger Finger Splint: Wearing a splint at night to keep the affected finger or thumb straight while sleeping can be beneficial.
  • Exercises: Gentle stretching exercises can reduce stiffness and improve your range of motion.
  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage pain and inflammation.
  • Trigger Finger Injection: Corticosteroid injections into the tendon sheath can often resolve the condition. If necessary, a second injection may be considered.

If non-surgical treatments don’t yield satisfactory results, trigger finger surgery may be recommended, particularly if your finger or thumb remains stuck in a flexed position. The surgical procedure, known as trigger finger release surgery, aims to free the A1 pulley, allowing the flexor tendon to move smoothly.

How to Prevent Trigger Finger

To prevent trigger finger, consider the following tips:

  • Learn and practice proper posture and techniques for sports and work activities.
  • Gradually introduce new exercises or activities to avoid injury.
  • Take breaks during repetitive tasks that place stress on your hands.

Contact JIS Orthopedics for Expert Care

If you suspect you have trigger finger and are seeking orthopedic treatment, reach out to JIS Orthopedics. We specialize in treating various hand conditions, including trigger finger, and have locations in New Albany and St. Clairsville, OH. Book your appointment with us today to get the expert care you deserve.

Medically reviewed by AJ Julka, MD

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If you’re suffering from finger pain, hand pain, wrist pain, or any upper extremity injuries, learn how Dr. AJ Julka and JIS Orthopedics can help you get back to living your life without limits. To schedule a consultation, click the button below!


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