Trigger finger

Overview

A trigger finger occurs when one of your finger tendons becomes swollen and inflamed and gets caught inside its tendon sheath causing the finger to get stuck in a bent position. It is often painful, occurs more commonly in the morning, and improves after moving the finger around for a while.  Activities that require repetitive firm gripping increases the risk of developing a trigger finger. It is also more common in people with diabetes and in women.

Common treatments for trigger fingers include:

  • Activity modification. Reduce activities that make your symptoms worse
  • Physical therapy (PT). PTs can help reduce your tendon swelling, improve its ability to glide smoothly through its sheath, and re-strengthen the muscles to your fingers
  • Ice and heat. Ice reduces swelling, while heat improves blood flow to the tendon and may reduce tendon stiffness
  • Trigger finger splint. Reduces the chances that you will experience a triggering episode, which will reduce the tendon inflammation and pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen (Aleve®) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). This type of medication can reduce pain and swelling
  • Injections. A corticosteroid (i.e., “cortisone” or “steroid”) injection can reduce the pain, swelling, and triggering episodes
  • Trigger finger release. Involves cutting some of the tissue that is restricting the tendon’s movements. This can be done using traditional surgical techniques or by using an ultrasound machine to guide a miniature cutting device to cut the tissue.

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