Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Trigger finger treatment varies depending on its severity and duration.

Treatment of mild cases

For mild or infrequent symptoms, these approaches may be effective:

  • Splinting. Your doctor may have you wear a splint to keep the affected finger in an extended position for up to six weeks. The splint helps to rest the joint. 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.
  • Finger exercises. Your doctor may also suggest that you perform gentle exercises with the affected finger. This can help you maintain mobility in your finger.
  • Avoiding repetitive gripping. For at least three to four weeks, avoid activities that require repetitive gripping, repeated grasping or the prolonged use of vibrating hand-held machinery.

Treatment of serious cases

For more-serious symptoms, your doctor may recommend other approaches, including:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs — ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), for example — may relieve the swelling constricting the tendon sheath and trapping the tendon. These medications can also relieve the pain associated with trigger finger.
  • Steroids. An injection of a steroid medication, such as a glucocorticoid, near or into the tendon sheath also can be used to reduce inflammation of the sheath. This treatment is most effective if given soon after signs and symptoms begin. Injections can be repeated if necessary, though repeated injections may not be as effective as the initial injection. Steroid injections may not be as effective in people with other medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes.
  • Percutaneous trigger finger release. In this procedure, which is performed with local anesthesia, doctors use a needle to release the locked finger. This procedure is most effective for the index, middle and ring fingers.
  • Surgery. Though less common than other treatments, surgical release of the tendon may be necessary for troublesome locking that doesn't respond to other treatments.
Oct. 25, 2011

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