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What is Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger is a condition in which one of your fingers gets stuck in a bent position. Your finger may bend or straighten with a snap — like a trigger being pulled and released.

Also known as stenosing tenosynovitis (stuh-NO-sing ten-o-sin-o-VIE-tis), Trigger Finger is caused when inflammation narrows the space within the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger.

Tendons are fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone. Each tendon is surrounded by a protective sheath. Trigger Finger occurs when the affected finger's tendon sheath becomes irritated and inflamed. This interferes with the normal gliding motion of the tendon through the sheath. Prolonged irritation of the tendon sheath can produce scarring, thickening and the formation of bumps (nodules) in the tendon that impede the tendon's motion even more.

Anyone can develop a Trigger Finger, and the majority of patients with the condition have no known risk factors. Our chances of developing this condition increase as we get older. People whose work or participate in hobbies requiring repetitive gripping actions are also at risk of developing Trigger Finger. The condition is more common in women. Patients with medical conditions such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis are at higher risk, too. Trigger Finger may also arise following injuries to the hand or after undergoing hand surgery for conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Treatment of Trigger Finger varies depending on the severity. However, your physician is likely to prescribe a steroid injection prior to recommending surgery.

Signs and symptoms of trigger finger may progress from mild to severe and include:

  • Finger stiffness, particularly in the morning

  • A popping or clicking sensation as you move your finger

  • Tenderness or a bump (nodule) in the palm at the base of the affected finger

  • Finger catching or locking in a bent position, which suddenly pops straight

  • Finger locked in a bent position, which you are unable to straighten

  • Trigger finger can affect any finger, including the thumb. More than one finger may be affected at a time, and both hands might be involved.

  • Triggering is usually more pronounced in the morning, while firmly grasping an object or when straightening your finger.

It is best to make an appointment if you have any stiffness, catching, numbness or pain in a finger joint, or if you can't straighten or bend a finger. Seek immediate medical care if your finger joint is hot and inflamed, as these signs may indicate an infection.

For more information or to request an appointment, please contact Dr. Patrick McDaid, M.D. at

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