What Is Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger has nothing to do with firing a weapon. Instead, it’s a condition in which your finger gets stuck in a bent position. The condition is painful and can affect any finger, even your thumb. It may show up in more than one finger at a time and affect one or both hands. 

At Maryland Orthopedic Specialists, our experienced hand specialist, Peter Fitzgibbons, MD, and the rest of our team can help you overcome trigger finger and other painful hand conditions. 

Here’s what you should know about trigger finger and what you can expect with treatment.

Symptoms of trigger finger

Trigger finger develops over time. You may first notice stiffness in your finger, especially in the morning. Your finger may pop or click as you move it. This movement may also cause pain that starts to subside as you move it more. 

You may notice a bump at the base of the affected finger or fingers.  Eventually, trigger finger leads to a locked finger that you just can’t straighten. 

People at risk

You’re vulnerable to trigger finger if you have a job or task that requires repeated movement of your finger or thumb. 

Inflammation in the tendons of your finger or thumb also causes the condition. The inflammation leads to irritation of the sheath that covers the tendon, causing thickening and scarring. As a result, the sheath doesn’t allow for smooth movement of the finger and causes popping and snapping.

If you’re aged 40-60, you’re at greatest risk, and women tend to develop the condition more frequently than men. Underlying health conditions, like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout also contribute to your risk of developing trigger finger.

Farmers, musicians, and industrial workers — people who use repeated finger and thumb movements — tend to develop the condition over time. If you’ve had surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger sometimes develops in the first six months following the procedure.

Dr. Fitzgibbons takes these risk factors and a physical exam of your fingers into account when diagnosing trigger finger. X-rays and lab tests aren’t useful in a final determination if you have the condition. Diagnosis is based on your symptoms and presentation of symptoms. 

What happens after trigger finger diagnosis

If you do have trigger finger, rest, splints, stretching, and steroid injections are conservative treatments that can help alleviate symptoms and restore function. 

Dr. Fitzgibbons may recommend surgery if these treatments don’t help you get relief. Surgery loosens the tendon so it moves smoothly again. 

Dr. Fitzgibbons may recommend a minor in-office surgical procedure or, if you have severe symptoms, a more invasive trigger finger release surgery that opens the sheath around the tendon. Expect to regain use of your finger in a few weeks or months following surgery. 

Trigger finger can be an annoying, painful, and frustrating condition. Contact us at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists in Bethesda or Germantown, Maryland, if you’re suffering symptoms that suggest the condition. We’re here to help with all your hand problems as well as other orthopedic concerns.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Treatment Options for Biceps Tendon Rupture

Your biceps tendon is a thick band of connective tissue that attaches your biceps muscle to the bones in the shoulder and your elbow. If this tendon tears, or ruptures, here are your options for treatment, including surgery.

Life After Knee Replacement Surgery

Knee replacement surgery is a savior for people who have a damaged knee from injury or arthritis. You can go back to just about all the activities you love, pain-free. Read on to learn what to expect after your initial healing.

Try These Stretches to Avoid Elbow Problems

The elbow is subject to wear-and-tear during racquet or swinging sports, weight-training, or repetitive work tasks like painting. Take care of this joint with these stretches to prevent overuse injuries and the associated pain and dysfunction.

3 Ways a Brace Can Help Your Wrist Arthritis

When you have pain and stiffness in your wrist due to arthritis, even the simplest of daily tasks can become difficult. A brace can help you use your ailing wrist more confidently. Here’s why.