What is Trigger Finger?

It’s common for a hand therapist to hear the statement, “Something is wrong with my finger, I can’t bend it”.  If your finger is locked in a bent position and you are unable to bend it, it could be trigger finger.  What is trigger finger?  We will uncover the causes, symptoms and treatment options for you here.

What is Trigger Finger?

Instead of your finger gliding through its motions smoothly, it will hesitate, snap or click during bending or straightening.  It looks as if you were squeezing a “trigger”.  Trigger finger can occur in one or more fingers, although the ring finger tends to be the one most affected. The medical term for the trigger finger is stenosing tenosynovitis.

Triggering the Condition

What causes a trigger finger?  Local swelling from inflammation or scarring of the tendon sheath around the flexor tendons can cause trigger finger.  These tendons work to pull the affected finger inward toward the palm.  Some common causes may include:

  • Repetitive trauma
  • A condition resulting from an underlying illness that causes inflammation of tissues of the hand like rheumatoid arthritis
  • Repetitive Motions
  • Frequent strong grasping or gripping
  • People who have osteoarthritis, gout or diabetes
  • Age – people between the ages of 40 and 60 are more likely to get trigger finger

Think it’s Trigger Finger?  The Signs & Symptoms

  • There is swelling or a tender lump in the palm of the hand
  • You are unable to fully flex the finger
  • There is pain and stiffness when bending the finger
  • Soreness at the base of the finger or thumb in the palm
  • Snapping or popping sensation when moving the finger or thumb
  • Locking of the finger or thumb in a bent position
  • Stiffness and bent position of the finger are worse in the morning
  • As you use your fingers and thumb the stiffness lessens

Trigger Finger Treatment—Restoring Fluid Movement

Trigger finger can be treated through proper exercise and therapy.  Other treatment options that may be effective include:

If you suspect you have trigger finger, the first step is to rest your finger or thumb.

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