Trigger Finger

Trigger finger (also known as stenosing tenosynovitis) is a painful condition in which a finger or thumb clicks or locks as it is bent toward the palm. Patients may notice intermittent locking or catching initially. Then, as the condition progresses and becomes severe, they may not be able to re-open the finger after it is bent or flexed into the palm. Trigger finger usually starts with discomfort or pain at the base of the finger or the thumb. The area is often sensitive to touch or pressure, and patients may feel a lump or “nodule” in the area. As the symptoms progress, patients may experience clicking or popping of the finger during movement or may suffer from the finger locking in a bent position. These symptoms are often worse in the morning and may need to be straightened with pressure from the opposite hand.


The goal in treating trigger finger is to eliminate the swelling and catching or locking, allowing full, painless movement of the finger or thumb.

Non-Surgical Treatments



Wearing a splint to keep the affected finger straight to avoid triggering and reduce inflammation. This is often done at night. 

Steroid Injections

Injections of corticosteroids into the tendon sheath to reduce inflammation and swelling. Only 1-2 injections can be safely administered before considering surgical intervention.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen may help reduce inflammation and pain.

Surgical Treatments


Trigger Finger Release

Trigger finger release surgery is a common procedure that involves making a small incision in the palm or finger to access the affected tendon. The tunnel constricting the tendon is then widened or “released” to allow smoother movement.

Why Patients Trust the Center for Hand & Upper Extremity

Our advanced outpatient surgery centers are led by renowned, fellowship-trained orthopedic, plastic, and reconstructive surgeons who specialize exclusively in hand, wrist, and arm procedures. Patients gain access to state-of-the-art diagnostics and treatments in a more private environment that ensures the highest standards of patient safety, quality, and continuity of care. We utilize the latest microsurgical techniques and advanced imaging technology to precisely locate and address nerve and tendon issues with excellent success rates. 

When to Seek Medical Attention

While mild cases of trigger finger may be treated with splinting and anti-inflammatories, it's important to see a doctor if symptoms persist or worsen. Signs it's time to seek medical attention include triggering that interferes with daily activities, worsening catching or locking episodes, swelling and pain in the palm at the base of the affected finger, and finger joints becoming difficult to straighten or bend. Persistent inflammation can cause scarring and deformity of the tendon. Seeing a doctor promptly when symptoms are significantly impacting normal hand function and quality of life allows early treatment to relieve symptoms and prevent permanent damage. Getting an accurate diagnosis and initiating appropriate therapy is key to successfully resolving trigger finger.

Real people. Real results.

Meet Vince,

Who was able to restore the use of his hand after a severe flexor tendon injury.

Vince suffered a flexor tendon laceration to his non-dominant small finger after an accident with broken glass, requiring emergency surgery by Dr. Shah. Despite the complex injury, Vince underwent a wide-awake surgical repair by Dr. Shah and dedicated occupational therapy, allowing him to regain excellent functionality in his hand.


How is trigger finger diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and oral medical history to determine if trigger finger is suspected. Additional testing, such as an ultrasound may be requested to help confirm the diagnosis.
What are the causes and risk factors of trigger finger?
In most cases, the true cause of trigger finger is unknown. Generally speaking, most believe that a thickening in the outer covering or tunnel of the tendon (the “pulley”) leads to an inability of the tendon to glide freely through the tunnel. The tendon then catches on the thickened pulley, causing the catching or locking that patients suffer from. 

Triggering is sometimes due to tendon nodules in people known to have rheumatoid arthritis. People with insulin-dependent diabetes are especially prone to triggering, but most trigger digits occur in people without diabetes.
What self-care can help manage symptoms?
Applying ice packs, using over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, doing finger stretches and exercises, and splinting the finger can help reduce inflammation and discomfort from trigger finger.
Does trigger finger resolve on its own?
In mild cases, especially when caught early, trigger finger may resolve with conservative self-care treatments. However, more severe or chronic cases often require medical treatment or surgical release of the tendon.
HUES Surgeons

Feeling stuck? We’ll get you on the path to pain-free hand movement.