Trigger finger or stenosing tenosynovitis is a common hand condition characterized by the locking, catching, or snapping of a finger or thumb when attempting to straighten or bend it. This frequently painful condition occurs when inflammation or nodules on the flexor tendons hinder their smooth gliding through the tendon sheath, creating a “triggering” effect as the finger or thumb tries to move. In some cases, the finger or thumb can become stuck in a bent position, requiring manual manipulation to straighten it.

At North Florida Hand and Wrist, our expert hand and wrist surgeons, Dr. Richard D. Curtis and Dr. Jose Baez, are dedicated to providing patients with the absolute best care for trigger finger. Our state-of-the-art surgical facility, staffed by a team of dedicated practitioners, aims to alleviate any discomfort associated with this condition and restore the proper function and mobility of your hand.

Causes and Risk Factors of Trigger Finger

Trigger finger occurs when the flexor tendons in the finger or thumb, responsible for facilitating bending, become inflamed or develop nodules, leading to difficulty in smoothly gliding through the narrow tendon sheath. While the precise cause is not always apparent, certain factors can contribute to the development of this condition:

  1. Repetitive hand movements: Prolonged engagement in activities that require repetitive gripping or forceful finger motions, such as typing, playing musical instruments, or using hand tools, can increase the risk of developing trigger finger.
  2. Medical conditions: People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout, are more susceptible to trigger finger due to the potential impact on tendon health.
  3. Age and gender: Trigger finger is more commonly observed in individuals between the ages of 40 and 60, and women are more likely to develop this condition compared to men.
  4. Occupation or hobbies: Occupations and hobbies that require repetitive or forceful finger motions may increase the likelihood of developing trigger finger over time.

Identifying the Symptoms of Trigger Finger

The primary symptoms of trigger finger include pain, stiffness, and a locking or catching sensation in the affected finger or thumb. Here are some common indications that you may have this condition:

  1. Pain and tenderness: Pain, often accompanied by tenderness, is usually experienced at the base of the finger or thumb, near the palm. The pain may worsen when attempting to bend or straighten the affected digit.
  2. Stiffness: The finger or thumb may feel stiff, particularly in the morning, making it challenging to extend or flex.
  3. Locking or catching sensation: In some cases, the affected finger or thumb may “lock” or “catch” when attempting to straighten or bend it. This can cause considerable discomfort and affect your ability to perform daily activities.
  4. Clicking or popping sensation: When the finger or thumb is moved, a clicking or popping sound may be heard or felt, indicating that the tendon is struggling to move through the tendon sheath.

Diagnosis of Trigger Finger

A comprehensive physical examination and assessment of your medical history are crucial for diagnosing trigger finger. Your healthcare provider will assess the affected finger or thumb, noting any swelling, tenderness, or stiffness. They may ask you to demonstrate movements that typically cause pain and discomfort.

In most cases, imaging tests are not required to confirm a diagnosis, as trigger finger can be diagnosed based on the patient’s symptoms and physical examination findings.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Trigger Finger

Before resorting to surgical intervention, various non-surgical treatments can be explored to address the symptoms of trigger finger:

  1. Rest and activity modification: Temporarily avoiding activities that cause pain or involve repetitive gripping can give the inflamed tendons time to recover.
  2. Splinting: Wearing a splint on the affected finger or thumb can help keep it in a straight position, reducing the chances of triggering and allowing the tendon to heal.
  3. Medications: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
  4. Heat or cold therapy: Applying heat or cold packs to the affected area may offer temporary pain relief.
  5. Corticosteroid injections: Injections of corticosteroid medication directly into the tendon sheath can help relieve pain and decrease inflammation. However, repeated injections should be limited, as they may weaken the tendon over time.
  6. Hand therapy: A hand therapist can teach you exercises and techniques to improve hand function and reduce symptoms associated with trigger finger.

Surgical Treatment Options for Trigger Finger

If non-surgical treatments prove unsuccessful in providing relief, surgical intervention may be considered. Trigger finger release surgery involves a small incision in the palm of the hand to widen the affected tendon sheath, allowing the tendon to glide smoothly. This procedure can be performed under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. Recovery typically includes hand therapy, and most patients can return to their normal activities within a few weeks.


Trigger finger can significantly affect daily tasks by causing discomfort and hindering hand mobility. If left untreated, trigger finger can lead to permanent stiffness and limited range of motion in the affected finger. It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect you have trigger finger to prevent further damage.

Are you experiencing pain and reduced hand function due to trigger finger caused by diabetes? Don’t let it affect your daily life any longer. Reach out to the team of experts at North Florida Hand and Wrist led by Dr. Richard D. Curtis and Dr. Jose Baez for comprehensive diabetes trigger finger treatment options. Book an evaluation today and take the first step towards improved hand and wrist health.