Trigger Thumb

Trigger Thumb

What is Tigger Finger?

A trigger finger is a condition that causes pain, stiffness and a sensation of locking or catching when you try to bend or straighten your finger. It is also called “Stenosing tenosynovitis”. Most often the ring finger and thumb are affected. But this can occur in any finger. When it affects the thumb, it is called Trigger Thumb. Trigger finger is the most common cause of hand pain and disability.

What causes trigger finger?

Trigger finger is caused by inflammation and thickening of the flexor tendons, the tendons that allow the fingers to bend and straighten.  A trigger finger develops over time causing the tendon to glide abnormally. When a swollen tendon develops a nodule, it causes the tendon to get stuck as you try to open and close the finger, causing a sensation of catching or popping that can be very painful.

The cause is not known but some factors increase the risk of developing trigger finger. It is more common in people with diabetes, gout and rheumatoid arthritis. It often occurs when the patient forces the use of the finger or thumb as may be seen in people who need a forceful grip for repetitive movements.

There is some evidence that systemic collagen/vascular diseases can cause the physical changes that results in trigger finger. People with trigger finger are prone to developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Symptoms of Trigger Finger

  • A tender lump at the base of the finger on the palm side of the hand
  • A painful catching, snapping or popping with movement of the affected finger
  • A locking sensation during finger movement
  • Pain when trying to bend or straighten the finger
  • Pain that radiates along the finger and the palm
  • Stiffness and locking that tends to worsen after periods of inactivity
  • In severe cases the finger can trigger, or get stuck in a bent position.


First-line treatment is a corticosteroid injection into the tendon, and possibly splinting. Surgery is recommended to release the tendon when injections fail to provide relief or the tendon ruptures. It is done under local anesthetic. Surgery can provide complete relief, and full recovery.