How to treat trigger finger

Jonathan Cluett, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with subspecialty training in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery.

Stuart Hershman, MD, is a board-certified spine surgeon. He specializes in spinal deformity and complex spinal reconstruction.

A trigger finger is a common condition that causes fingers to snap and get stuck in the palm. Often worse in the morning, patients complain that they awaken with their finger stuck in the palm of the hand. Straightening the finger can be painful and can cause a snapping sensation that is the source of the name “trigger finger.” Each of the fingers and thumbs can be affected by triggering, and all treatments discussed are useful for any digit. Trigger fingers occur more commonly in women (about 75%) and can occur in any of the fingers or the thumb.  

Trigger finger can be painful and can get in the way of many activities. However, it's not a life-threatening condition; therefore, treatment is never mandatory. If someone chooses, they can live with the symptoms, which sometimes resolve on their own.

How to treat trigger finger

Splinting, NSAIDs and Simple Steps

Patients with minimal symptoms may want to try some simple treatments first. These may include oral anti-inflammatory medication, hot or cold wraps, massage, and even a splint.

The success of these noninvasive treatments depends on the severity of the trigger finger. Most people with few symptoms don't seek any treatment. Most people with more painful symptoms have passed the point when simple steps are helpful. That said, a trial of simple treatments is certainly reasonable.

Very few healthcare providers are still splinting trigger fingers, as the success of this treatment is debated, and often the splints have to be worn for several months to be helpful.

Since other treatments are successful for trigger finger, splinting is seldom used anymore.

Cortisone Injections

The most common treatment of trigger finger is with an injection of steroids (cortisone) into the tendon sheath. The cortisone often decreases swelling sufficiently to restore normal mechanics.

Usually, a single cortisone injection will resolve the problem at least temporarily. The chance of the cortisone providing a lasting solution is about 50%. For this reason, many people will choose to start with a cortisone injection. While this may not be a permanent solution for the condition, it can be effective for many individuals.

Side-effects of a cortisone injection are most often minimal, but for some people, they can be quite significant. That is why some healthcare providers and patients choose to skip the shot and move right into more definitive treatment, such as surgery.

Surgery

Surgery for a trigger finger (called a trigger-finger release) is a same-day procedure that can be done under local anesthetic or a regional nerve block. A small (less than two centimeters) incision is made in the skin, and the tight portion of the tendon sheath is released. This allows the tendon to glide smoothly again without catching.

Following the trigger-finger release, the activity of the finger is encouraged, as this will help prevent scar tissue from forming where the surgery was performed. Patients are advised to avoid pressure on the healing incision for a few weeks. Full recovery is expected.

Trigger finger surgery is very safe, but there are possible complications. The most common problem is that the trigger finger can come back if the tendon sheath is not adequately released. Other possible problems include infection, stiffness, and damage to the nerves of the finger. The likelihood of these problems is small, and surgery has a very high success rate.​  

What Is the Best Option?

There is not necessarily the best option for treatment of a trigger finger. There has been some evidence that early treatment with a surgical release can speed overall recovery, as patients tend to have less stiffness and inflammation in the finger. Therefore, some surgeons will recommend more aggressive treatment by skipping over the simple steps and going directly to surgery.

However, many people want to avoid the surgical knife. In those cases, there are very reasonable options that do not include surgery. Every individual has different goals and different priorities, therefore, it's difficult to say that one particular treatment is better for everyone. Discuss with your healthcare provider the best treatment for your situation.

How to treat trigger finger

Does anyone have a home remedy for trigger thumb?

Answers

Check out eHow.com they have good article on it. Exercises, massage and stretches seem to be recommended.

One way to address mild cases of trigger finger is simply to allow the affected finger or thumb to heal. In mild cases, rest of four to six weeks can result in significant improvement. Long-term prevention often entails making changes in your routine.

Consider new ways to do jobs that require less repetitive motion of the fingers and thumb. Along with rest, some doctors recommend a splint that keeps the finger extended for as long as six weeks. This aids in resting the joint and prevents involuntary bending of the finger during such activities as sleep.

Doctors sometimes prescribe one way to address mild cases of trigger finger is simply to allow the affected finger or thumb to heal.

In mild cases, rest of four to six weeks can result in significant improvement. Long-term prevention often entails making changes in your routine. Consider new ways to do jobs that require less repetitive motion of the fingers and thumb.

Along with rest, some doctors recommend a splint that keeps the finger extended for as long as six weeks. This aids in resting the joint and prevents involuntary bending of the finger during such activities as sleep. Doctors sometimes prescribe finger exercises, massage and heat treatments such as soaking the finger in warm water. All help you keep your finger mobile.

If mild treatment does not work, doctors sometimes recommend anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen that relieve inflammation and swelling in the tendon sheath of the affected finger. Steroids such as cortisone also can be used to reduce inflammation of the sheath and its lubricating fluid.e finger exercises, massage and heat treatments such as soaking the finger in warm water.

All help you keep your finger mobile. If mild treatment does not work, doctors sometimes recommend anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen that relieve inflammation and swelling in the tendon sheath of the affected finger. Steroids such as cortisone also can be used to reduce inflammation of the sheath and its lubricating fluid.

I had to have surgery on mine. Doctor never recommended exercises but mine was pretty severe.

Years ago I was diagnosed as having trigger thumb. My doctor gave me a cortisone injection which seems to help but about a year later the pain that goes along with trigger thumb returned as well as the no warning projection of the thumb appeared.

When I returned to the doctor for a follow up visit he told me that they do not like to give more than one cortisone injection in that area as the skin is very thin & the cortisone could cause more thinning of the skin. He recommended I have surgery which I did have.

It has been about 8 years since then & the problem has never returned. I wish you well.

How to treat trigger finger

Trigger finger is a condition that affects a finger or fingers, it cause the finger/fingers to become bent in a downward position due to inflammation and irritation in the tendons in the hand and finger. It can be frustrating to deal with because it can make even simple tasks more difficult to deal with, and even cause a significant amount of pain in certain cases. One way to help treat trigger finger is with physical therapy. Movement Concepts, who offers physical therapy in Garden City, offers treatment services for people dealing with trigger finger.

There are a few different ways that working with a physical therapist can help treat trigger finger:

    are a proven method to help treat trigger finger and help relieve pain. Since trigger finger is caused by inflammation of the tendon, stretching out these muscles and tendons is an effective way to help alleviate the stiffness that is causing the problem. is another way to help treat trigger finger in combination with stretching. Using hot and cold therapy can help relax the muscles and allow for more flexibility which will help sooth the pain. If you are interested in working with a physical therapist for help to treat your trigger finger and want to find physical therapy in Garden City, Movement Concepts offers treatment options for trigger finger.
  • Along with the two previous treatment options, a physical therapist may recommend massaging the area in order to reduce some of the pain and inflammation.

By using all three of these methods it can be an effective and simple way to help treat your trigger finger.

When looking for physical therapy in Garden City, Movement Concepts is a highly rated physical therapy practice that offers a number of different services to our clients including treatment for trigger finger. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with us be sure to contact us today.