Trigger Finger

Trigger Finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a prevalent hand condition characterized by the locking or catching of a finger or thumb when it is bent or straightened. This occurs due to inflammation and thickening of the tendon sheath, causing the affected tendon to catch or lock as it slides through the sheath. Trigger Finger can affect any digit, although it is most commonly seen in the ring or middle finger and the thumb. The condition is more prevalent among women, individuals with diabetes, and those engaged in activities requiring repetitive gripping or finger movements.

At North Florida Hand and Wrist, our accomplished hand and wrist surgeons, Dr. Richard D. Curtis and Dr. Jose Baez, specialize in diagnosing and treating Trigger Finger utilizing advanced, evidence-based techniques tailored to suit each patient’s needs. Our state-of-the-art facility and dedicated team of practitioners collaborate to offer an unwavering level of care, focusing on alleviating discomfort and restoring hand functionality.

In this comprehensive article, we will explore the potential causes of Trigger Finger, common symptoms, and the various diagnostic methods employed. Furthermore, we will discuss the wide array of both non-surgical and surgical treatment options provided by North Florida Hand and Wrist. By understanding Trigger Finger and the available treatments, patients can make informed decisions about their hand health, leading to successful outcomes and an improved quality of life.

Uncovering Causes and Risk Factors of Trigger Finger

Though the precise cause of Trigger Finger is not entirely clear, several factors are believed to contribute to the development and progression of this condition. These factors include:

  1. Repetitive hand and finger movements: Performing activities that involve repeated gripping, flexing, or extending of the fingers can increase the risk of developing Trigger Finger, as these actions can cause irritation and inflammation of the tendon sheath.
  2. Medical conditions: Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout, are known to increase the risk of Trigger Finger due to the associated inflammation and glycemic control issues.
  3. Age and gender: Trigger Finger commonly affects individuals between the ages of 40 and 60 and is more prevalent among women than men.
  4. Occupational hazards: Professions that require frequent and repetitive hand motions, such as musicians, farmers, or assembly line workers, may be at a higher risk of developing Trigger Finger.

Recognizing Symptoms of Trigger Finger

Trigger Finger can present with various symptoms that typically develop gradually over time. Common symptoms include:

  1. Finger stiffness and locking: The primary symptom of Trigger Finger is the catching or locking sensation that occurs when attempting to bend or straighten the affected finger or thumb.
  2. Pain and tenderness: Pain and tenderness are often experienced at the base of the affected finger or thumb, particularly when attempting to move the digit or apply pressure to the area.
  3. Clicking or popping sensation: Some individuals with Trigger Finger may experience a clicking or popping sensation when moving the joint, caused by the affected tendon slipping through the inflamed sheath.
  4. Finger or thumb swelling: In some cases, swelling may occur along the tendon and finger or thumb region.

Diagnosing Trigger Finger

To accurately diagnose Trigger Finger and recommend the most suitable treatment, our physicians at North Florida Hand and Wrist will:

  1. Perform a physical examination: The doctor will assess the affected finger or thumb for tenderness, swelling, and range of motion, as well as evaluate the locking or catching sensation that may be present during movement.
  2. Review medical history: A thorough discussion of the patient’s medical history, including any pre-existing medical conditions or risk factors, is crucial for determining the most effective treatment plan.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Trigger Finger

In many instances, conservative treatment methods can successfully manage or alleviate symptoms of Trigger Finger. Some non-surgical treatment options include:

  1. Activity modification: Identifying and avoiding tasks that worsen symptoms can help reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort.
  2. Immobilization: Wearing a splint or brace to support the affected finger or thumb may help prevent joint movement, allowing the inflamed tendon sheath to heal.
  3. Anti-inflammatory medications: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce inflammation and pain associated with Trigger Finger.
  4. Heat therapy and gentle exercises: Applying heat, followed by gentle finger exercises, can help improve mobility and reduce stiffness in the affected finger.
  5. Corticosteroid injections: In certain cases, a doctor may recommend injecting corticosteroids into the tendon sheath to reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief from symptoms. However, the long-term effectiveness of these injections may vary.

Surgical Treatment Options for Trigger Finger

Surgical intervention may become necessary if non-surgical treatments prove ineffective or the condition worsens. The primary surgical treatment for Trigger Finger is:

  1. Trigger Finger Release Surgery: This outpatient procedure involves opening the tendon sheath through a small incision at the base of the affected finger or thumb, allowing the tendon to glide freely without catching or locking. Trigger Finger Release Surgery is highly effective in alleviating symptoms and restoring finger function.

Following surgery, patients may require hand therapy or occupational therapy to facilitate optimal recovery and regain hand function.


Trigger Finger, while often manageable with conservative treatments, can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life if left untreated. By understanding the condition’s causes, symptoms, and available treatment options, patients can make well-informed decisions regarding their hand health and improve their overall quality of life. At North Florida Hand and Wrist, our team of skilled hand and wrist surgeons, led by Dr. Richard D. Curtis and Dr. Jose Baez, is dedicated to providing personalized and comprehensive Trigger Finger treatments for patients suffering from it or other hand and wrist conditions. With our expert guidance, you can anticipate exceptional care on your journey toward pain relief and restored hand function.