Trigger Finger” and “Trigger Thumb” are common names for a specific type of tenosynovitis.  This is caused by a problem between the pulleys and tendons of the hand.  Pulleys normally allow tendons to glide smoothly along the hand and fingers.  When you develop a trigger finger/thumb, the pulley is too tight and doesn’t allow the tendon to glide smoothly, causing the finger to “trigger,” or catch.

Symptoms of Trigger Finger/Thumb

Pain and “triggering” are the most common symptoms.  Even if the finger is not “triggering,” there can be significant pain.  Some patients may wake up in the morning and have difficulty straightening out their finger.  It can even become locked in a flexed position.  This can be very painful.

Trigger FingerTrigger Finger

Treatment for Trigger Finger/Thumb

Splinting – While occasionally used, splinting is rarely effective in treating trigger fingers.

Steroid injections – An injection around the affected pulley is very effective in treating this problem.  Usually surgery can be avoided with steroid injections.

Trigger Finger/Thumb Surgery

If non-surgical forms of treatment do not relieve the symptoms, surgery may be recommended.  This surgery involves a small incision over the affected pulley.  This can be done with sedation or local anesthesia using Wide Awake Hand Surgery techniques.  Recovery is quick and does not require any splinting.

Diagrams modified from ASSH (