Trigger finger is when a finger or thumb gets stuck in a bent position, like you are squeezing a trigger. Once it gets “unstuck,” your finger will pop 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, but it is more common in people who:
Trigger finger is diagnosed by your medical history and a physical exam. You will not need 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 the above treatments.
The surgery is done under local anesthesia or a nerve block. These will block pain. You will be awake during surgery.
During the surgery:
If you notice signs of infection call your surgeon right away. Some signs of infection are:
If your trigger finger returns, call your surgeon. You may need another surgery.
Digitalstenosing tenosynovitis; Trigger digit; Trigger finger release
Tigger finger. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri’s Clinical Advisor 2012.1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2011:1041.
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, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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