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Trigger finger

Trigger finger is a painful condition causing the fingers to catch or lock up when they are bent. This can also affect thumbs, called trigger thumb.

Trigger finger is usually due to inflammation of tendons connecting muscles and bones in the fingers or thumbs.

Tendons usually slide easily through their covering of tissue with a lubricating membrane surrounding the synovium joint.

However, this can become narrowed or swollen with inflammation so that bending the finger or thumb causes it to snap or pop.

The condition is also known as stenosing tenosynovitis or stenosing tenovaginosis.



What causes trigger finger?

Repeated movement or forceful use of the finger or thumb, or gripping a hand tool for a long time can lead to trigger finger, as well as medical conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, gout, complications of diabetes and Dupuytren's contracture.

Who gets trigger finger?

Occupations involving repeated finger and thumb movements increase a person's risk of trigger finger, including farm workers, factory workers and musicians.

Trigger finger is more common in women than men, and is more likely to affect people between the ages of 40 and 60.

What are the symptoms of trigger finger?

An early symptom of trigger finger is soreness at the base of the finger or thumb with painful clicking or snapping when bending or straightening the finger. This sensation tends to get worse after resting the finger or thumb and improves after moving fingers and thumbs for some time.

If a finger or thumb locks up in a bent or straight position as the condition gets worse, the person may have to use the other hand to straighten them out.

How is trigger finger diagnosed?

A doctor will diagnose trigger finger based on the person's symptoms and a physical examination of the affected hand and fingers.

How is trigger finger treated?

Treatment for trigger finger includes resting that hand, fingers and thumb. A splint may be used to reduce movement in an affected thumb or finger.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs) like ibuprofen may be recommended for pain and to reduce inflammation.

In some cases, steroid injections in the affected area or an operation to free up the tendon may be needed.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on January 12, 2016

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