Digital stenosing tenosynovitis; Trigger digit; Trigger finger release
Trigger finger occurs when a finger or thumb gets stuck in a bent position, as if you were squeezing a trigger. Once it gets unstuck, the finger pops straight out, like a trigger being released.
In severe cases the finger cannot be straightened. Surgery is needed to correct it.
Tendons connect muscles to bones. When you tighten a muscle, it pulls on the tendon, and this causes the bone to move.
The tendons that move your finger slide through a tendon sheath (tunnel) as you bend your finger.
If you have a trigger finger, you may notice:
Trigger finger can occur in both children and adults. It is more common in people who:
Trigger finger is diagnosed by medical history and a physical exam. Trigger finger does not require x-rays or lab tests.
In mild cases, the goal is to decrease swelling in the tunnel.
Your doctor may also give you a shot of a medicine called cortisone. The shot goes into the tunnel that the tendon goes through. This can help decrease swelling. Your doctor may try a second shot if the first one does not work.
You may need surgery if your finger is locked in a bent position or does not get better with treatment. The surgery is done under local anesthesia or a nerve block to prevent pain. You may be awake during surgery.
During the surgery:
If you notice signs of infection, call your surgeon right away. Signs of infection include:
If your trigger finger returns, call your surgeon. You may need another surgery.
Calandruccion JH. Carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar tunnel syndrome, and stenosing tenosynovitis. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 76.
Silver JK. Trigger finger. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2008: chap 33.
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.