Causes and Cures of Trigger Finger


Do you have consistent pain in your index finger? Is your finger stiff for many days? Are you unable to bend your finger? Can you feel a visible bump in your swollen finger? If you have any of these symptoms; you might have a condition called trigger finger. It is a painful condition that causes swelling, stiffness and a sensation of catching while bending or straightening the affected finger. The index finger is most commonly affected; although it may affect any finger.

It is medically known as stenosing tenosynovitis; meaning hardening and inflammation of finger tendon. We have tendons in our fingers that are responsible for all the movement. They are covered under lubricating sheaths and glide easily with the help of pulleys: just like a line on the fishing rod. When these pulleys get hard and swollen, we get this painful condition of trigger finger.

What causes trigger finger?

The only main reason for having trigger finger is the repeated or forceful use of the finger. As described above, finger tendons are wrapped under protective synovial sheaths. When you repeatedly perform some forceful work, the sheath is irritated and tendons get seriously damaged. However, some people have an increased tendency to develop it than others.  Important risk factors culminating in trigger finger include:

  • Inflammatory diseases like gout, rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes increase the chances of trigger finger.
  • Women between 40 to 60 years of age have a higher risk.
  • Some specific professions that include excessive grabbing like industrial workers, farmers, civil laborers have more likelihood too.

Signs and Symptoms of Trigger Finger:

Major signs and symptoms include:

  • Pain and stiffness are the first and foremost symptoms. You may get up in the morning and experience a hardened finger and gets extremely painful you try to try to move it. Pain may not be associated with any injury. It is seen after a day of excessive hand use followed by a period of rest.
  • Swelling and inflammation at the joint.
  • A small bump at the base of the affected finger (it’s called as nodule).
  • A clinking or popping while you try to bend the finger due to this nodule.
  • Fixation of finger either in a straight or bent position.

No lab investigation is required to make its diagnosis. A doctor can easily diagnose it by looking at your finger and performing a physical examination.

How to treat Trigger Finger?

 Treatment is selected according to the severity of the symptoms. It is aimed at relieving the pain, resting the finger and reducing the swelling. It can be done by:

Painkillers: Over the counter NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen and naproxen are sufficient enough to get effective pain relief.

Splints: Wearing a splint is the best remedy to have a speedy recovery. In most of the cases rest is all you need to heal your trigger finger. A right splint will keep your finger still helping to curb inflammation. It is the mainstay of treatment as it offers pain relief, healing environment and prevents further deterioration of the inflamed tendon. Wearing a splint also allows using the remaining healthy fingers without hurting the damaged one. 

Steroidal injections: In severe cases, where rest and medication fail to resolve inflammation; steroids are injected at the site of damage. Steroids are potent anti-inflammatory agents and are very helpful to get quick results. A single shot will be sufficient enough to end finger swelling.

Surgery: It is the last resort and rarely needed. Even after weeks of treatment, tendon sheath may become completely fixed rendering the finger immobile. Surgery releases the fixed pulley of sheath and tendon can glide against the sheath again. This is a minor surgery and done under local anesthesia.


In a nutshell, Trigger finger is a painful condition and should be treated as early as possible. As stated above, Splinting is the most important step of healing a damaged finger and should be worn at once. Wear a good quality splint designed specifically for trigger finger and you will be perfectly alright in a couple of weeks.