Diagnosis

During the exam, a health care provider may ask you to open and close your hand, checking for areas of pain, smoothness of motion and evidence of locking.

Treatment

Trigger finger treatment varies depending on its severity and duration.

Medications

Consider taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve). Some types of these medicines can be delivered by creams or patches through the skin right where the problem is happening.

Therapy

Conservative noninvasive treatments may include:

  • Rest. Avoid activities that require repetitive gripping, repeated grasping or the prolonged use of vibrating hand-held machinery until your symptoms improve. If you can't avoid these activities altogether, padded gloves may offer some protection.
  • A splint. Wearing a splint can help rest the tendon.
  • Stretching exercises. Gentle exercises can help maintain mobility in your finger.

Surgical and other procedures

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

  • Steroid injection. An injection of a steroid near or into the tendon sheath may reduce inflammation and allow the tendon to glide freely again. An injection is often effective for more than a year. Some people need more than one injection.
  • Needle procedure. After numbing your palm, a member of your care team inserts a sturdy needle into the tissue around your affected tendon. Moving the needle and your finger helps break apart the tissue that's blocking the smooth motion of the tendon. Using ultrasound guidance during the procedure can improve results.
  • Surgery. Working through a small incision near the base of your affected finger, a surgeon can cut open the narrowed section of tendon sheath.

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Preparing for your appointment

You'll probably start by seeing your primary care doctor to determine what could be causing your symptoms.

What you can do

Make sure to bring a list of all the medications and supplements you take regularly. You also might want to write down some questions in advance. Examples may include:

  • What's causing my symptoms?
  • Is this condition temporary or long lasting?
  • What treatments are available?
  • Are there complications associated with this condition or its treatments?

What to expect from your doctor

Your health care provider is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over important information a second time.

Questions your provider might ask include:

  • What symptoms are you experiencing?
  • How long have you been experiencing these symptoms?
  • Do your symptoms seem to come and go, or do you always have them?
  • Does anything seem to make your symptoms better?
  • Does anything seem to make your symptoms worse?
  • Are your symptoms worse in the morning or at any particular time of the day?
  • Do you perform repetitive tasks on the job or for hobbies?
  • Have you recently experienced any injury to your hand?

Trigger finger care at Mayo Clinic

Dec. 03, 2022
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  2. Ferri FF. Trigger finger. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2023. Elsevier; 2023. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 17, 2022.
  3. Blazar PE, et al. Trigger finger (stenosing flexor tenosynovitis). https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Oct. 17, 2022.
  4. AskMayoExpert. Trigger digits (finger, thumb) (adult). Mayo Clinic; 2021.
  5. Trigger finger. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/trigger-finger. Accessed Oct. 17, 2022.
  6. Gil JA, et al. Current concepts in the management of trigger finger in adults. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 2020; doi:10.5435/JAAOS-D-19-00614.
  7. Ami TR. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic. Oct. 4, 2022.