Trigger Finger (Tendonitis)

Trigger finger occurs when the sheath surrounding the tendon in the finger or thumb becomes inflamed and constricted around the tendon. This constriction makes it difficult to move freely in the sheath. Sometimes nodules form as well as a result of the swelling.

Symptoms of Trigger Finger

Trigger finger can start with mild to moderate discomfort at the base of the finger or thumb, where they join the palm. This area will usually be tender to local pressure and a nodule may also be found in the area. Eventually, the affected digit will be painful to bend or straighten and will often ‘snap’ or ‘pop’ when flexing.


Causes of Trigger Finger 

Often the causes for trigger finger are not always clear. Like most tendon-related conditions, trigger finger can be caused by repetitive use and pressure. Some cases of trigger finger can also be associated with medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, gout and diabetes. Any digit can be affected by this condition, though the thumb, middle, and ring finger are the most common.


Your Treatment Options

In order to treat trigger finger the first step is to usually resolve the swelling of the tendon sheath. Early treatment can be as simple as hot/cold packs, anti-inflammatory medications, and splinting to reduce the repetitive motion of the affected finger. Resting the tendon is the important thing, so inflammation is allowed to subside and proper healing can begin. Your hand therapist can give you strengthening exercises and start you on a regular therapy regimen.

If non-surgical forms of treatment don’t alleviate the symptoms of trigger finger then your surgeon may recommend a surgery to release the tendon from the inflamed sheath. Normal use of the hand will then be resumed once comfort permits. Post-operative hand therapy may be recommended to help regain better use of the hand.