Trigger Finger and Trigger Thumb

What is a Trigger Finger?

Trigger Finger or Thumb is a painful condition in which a thumb or finger catches or snaps on bending and straightening. The finger may also become locked in a bent position.


Tendons are the cords that attach muscle to bone and allow joints to move. The tendons in the fingers and thumb are surrounded by a protective sheath. If the tendons or the sheath become thickened or inflamed, this causes a mismatch in size. As a result, the normal gliding motion of the tendon is affected.

Usually there is no obvious cause. Trigger fingers may be associated with certain medical conditions eg diabetes or arthritis.


People present with a wide spectrum of symptoms:

  • There may be pain at the base of the finger on the palm side of the hand.
  • Catching, popping or locking may also occur on finger motion.
  • Pain may be associated with this clicking sensation. 
  • In more severe cases, the finger may become locked in a bent position.
  • Stiffness and locking are often worse after periods of inactivity e.g in the morning.


Dr Watson will assess your hand. If she determines that a trigger finger or thumb is the diagnosis then a corticosteroid and local anaesthetic injection may be considered. Generally, a maximum of 2 steroid injections are trialled. An injection will usually settle the pain quite quickly, however the catching sensation may take a few weeks to settle.

Surgery is also an option for treatment. A small cut is made on the palm of the hand. Part of the tendon sheath is divided to allow the tendon to glide smoothly. This is performed as a day procedure.