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.

Causes:

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.

Symptoms:

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.

Treatment:

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.