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Trigger finger – Symptoms and causes

Publisher/Author : Pacific Cross

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)

Know the basics

What is trigger finger?

Trigger finger is a condition causing finger stiffened in a position. The disorder mainly affects the surrounding tendon tissue of the finger. Tendons are thick fibrous tissues associated with skeletal muscle. Tendon inflammation causes tendon not move smoothly, so fingers are locked in one place.

How common is trigger finger?

All ages can have trigger finger, but the disorder usually affects people over 45 and it affects women more than men. It is a common disorder in dentist, tailors and craftsmen.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of trigger finger?

Fingers are often fixed, trapped or locked in folded position even if you want to fold or stretch your finger. Sometimes you must have someone straighten or break the position your finger is in. Pain occurs on the tendon and it is often more painful when moving. Your finger might also be swollen. Adults often have trigger finger in the middle finger while children often have it in the thumb.

There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Symptoms persist;
  • Have fever after surgery or discharged incisions.

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes trigger finger?

Trigger finger occurs when the tendon sheath of the finger is irritated and inflamed. The tendon is a band of fiber connecting muscle with bone. Each tendon is surrounded by a protective sheath. The irritated sheath can affect the normal movement of tendon sliding in the sheath. In addition, trying to move your finger and the tendon in the sheath will create lasting tendon scarring, thickening and fibrosis, which makes motion of tendon more difficult.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for trigger finger?

There are many risk factors for this disease such as:

  • Repeated hand movement. Occupations and hobbies which require repetitive hand using and prolonged handling increase risk.
  • Certain diseases: diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Gender: it occurs more in female.

If there is no risk factor, it does not mean that you cannot get the disease. These signs are for reference only. You should consult a specialist doctor for more details.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is trigger finger diagnosed?


Doctors usually diagnosed based on physical examination and symptoms, no need for testing. During the examination, the doctor will ask you to hold, open hands, to check the area on your hand, motion and joint stiffness. Your doctor may also touch your palm to see if there is a tumor blocking the tendon movement. If tumor is related to trigger finger, it will move simultaneously with finger movement, because tumor sticks to finger tendons. Sometimes doctor use blood tests and x-rays to rule out the possibility of other causes of illness like gout, diabetes, fractures, thyroid abnormalities and carpal tunnel syndrome.


How is trigger finger treated?

The best treatments are to reduce inflammation and restore normal sliding motion of tendon in tendon sheaths. In mild cases, symptoms may be improved by avoiding causes. Taking rest for your finger with a special splint can help.

You may be injected with steroids (cortisone) into the tendon through your palms. You may need to inject more than once in case this problem sometimes recur. Injections relieve symptoms in 65% of patients. These symptoms usually disappear within 3-5 days and fingers locked out for 2-3 weeks.

If the problem continues, your doctor may suggest surgery by anesthesia. Then the doctor will cut a small line in open palm and open range around tendon tissue. Sometimes surgery may be taken by using a needle without incision.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage trigger finger?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with this disease:

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions.
  • Understand that the trigger finger can affect any finger. If it occurs in more than one finger, the doctor will rule out other possibilities such as diabetes disease before starting treatment.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you. Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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