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Trigger Finger

Trigger finger is a condition where it’s difficult and painful for you to move your finger or thumb.

What is trigger finger?

A tendon gets irritated or swollen, which narrows the tendon sheath (the tunnel your tendon runs through).

This causes ‘trigger finger’: you will experience clicking and pain when you move the finger or thumb that’s been affected.

What are the symptoms of trigger finger?

Symptoms include:

  • Clicking when you move the affected finger or thumb
  • Pain at the bottom of your finger / thumb when you move it
  • Tenderness at the bottom of your finger / thumb
  • In some cases, your finger could get stuck in a bent position, then pop straight unexpectedly, or you may have to use the other hand to straighten it.
  • Stiffness in the finger / thumb

What causes trigger finger?

The direct cause of trigger finger isn’t always clear. However, there are certain risk factors that make you more likely to develop the condition:

  • Your gender – it’s more common in women than men
  • Repetitive hand use and gripping – if your job involves a lot of gripping / repeated hand movements you’re at higher risk
  • Having some other health conditions – such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes
  • Following surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome – trigger finger can be a complication arising from the surgery

How is trigger finger diagnosed?

Go to see your doctor if you experience the above symptoms. They will ask you about your medical history and will assess your hand movement, seeing if your hand locks and/or is painful as you open and close it. They will also feel your palm for a lump. A lump is usually a sign of trigger finger if the lump moves as you move your hand.

How is trigger finger treated?

Sometimes trigger finger goes away on its own. However, if you don’t treat it, it’s possible that your thumb / finger could stay bent for good, so it’s important you see your doctor to get treatment.

Your doctor may recommend some (or all) of the following:

  • Steroid injection near or into your tendon sheath (the most frequently used treatment)
  • A splint for the affected finger, to cut down on movement and help your tendon to rest
  • Over-the-counter medications – such as ibuprofen or naproxen
  • Rest

If the above treatments don’t work, you may need surgery. You will be advised on the surgery that is best for you.

If you’re unsure what treatment you should go for, or the above treatments don’t work for you, our team of expert specialists are here to help.

This content has been checked and approved by

Mr Rupert Wharton  ›

Mr Rupert Wharton is a Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon at King Edward VII’s Hospital, specialising in sports injuries and degenerative conditions of the hand and wrist.

Find your specialist in trigger finger at King Edward VII's Hospital

If you suspect you have trigger finger and you’re seeking an expert opinion, you can find the UK’s leading hand specialists here at King Edward VII’s Hospital. Our consultants are hand-picked for you, making it easy to access the best possible care.

Mr Graham Lawton  ›
Special interests include:
Mallet finger (+ 5) more
Mr Rupert Wharton  ›
Special interests include:
Trauma & Orthopaedic surgery (+ 10) more

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