Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Trigger finger treatment varies depending on its severity and duration.

Medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or naproxen (Aleve) — may relieve the pain but are unlikely to relieve the swelling constricting the tendon sheath or trapping the tendon.

Therapy

Conservative noninvasive treatments may include:

  • Rest. For at least three to four weeks, avoid activities that require repetitive gripping, repeated grasping or the prolonged use of vibrating hand-held machinery.
  • Ice or heat. Some people experience improvement by icing the palm several times a day. Others see more benefit with warm-water soaks, particularly first thing in the morning.
  • A splint. Your doctor may have you wear a splint at night to keep the affected finger in an extended position for up to six weeks. The splint helps rest the tendon. Splinting also helps prevent you from curling your fingers into a fist while sleeping, which can make it painful to move your fingers in the morning.
  • Stretching exercises. Your doctor may also suggest gentle exercises to help maintain mobility in your finger.

Surgical and other procedures

If your symptoms are severe or if conservative treatments haven't helped, your doctor might suggest:

  • Steroid injection. An injection of a steroid medication near or into the tendon sheath may reduce inflammation and allow the tendon to glide freely again. This is the most common treatment, and in people who do not have diabetes, it is effective in up to 90 percent of patients. In people with diabetes, it is effective about half the time. Sometimes to obtain these results, a second injection is needed.
  • Percutaneous release. After numbing your palm, your doctor inserts a sturdy needle into the tissue around your affected tendon. Moving the needle and your finger helps break apart the constriction that's blocking the smooth motion of the tendon. This treatment may be done under ultrasound control, so the doctor can see where the tip of the needle is under the skin to be sure it opens the tendon sheath without damaging the tendon or nearby nerves. This procedure is usually done in the doctor's office or procedure room.
  • Surgery. Working through a small incision near the base of your affected finger, a surgeon can cut open the constricted section of tendon sheath. This procedure is usually done in an operating room.
Aug. 27, 2014

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