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Trigger Finger/Thumb

What is trigger finger/thumb?

Trigger finger or thumb describes a condition where an affected finger or thumb often becomes stuck in a bent position due to the development of painful nodules in the tendons that run in the palm of your hand. These tendons are responsible for bending your fingers and thumbs, however the development of these nodules can cause the tendons to become stuck, resulting in an inability to straighten out the affected finger/thumb. These nodules can also catch during bending of the fingers/thumb, which can make some movements uncomfortable or painful.

What causes trigger finger/thumb?

Although the underlying cause of the development of these nodules is unclear, they are associated with other certain conditions, including diabetes, arthritis and Dupuytren’s disease (a condition that causes thickening of the tendons in the palm of the hand).

How is trigger finger/thumb diagnosed?

Trigger finger/thumb can usually be diagnosed on physical examination alone, often without the need for further testing or imaging.

Treatment and recovery

Initially, rest, hand exercises, bracing your affected finger or thumb and anti-inflammatory or pain-killing medications can be helpful in relieving your symptoms. Following this, steroid injections into the tendon can sometimes help to free the tendon up and restore your normal movement.

Where these previous treatments have proven insufficient, or if you have severe symptoms, surgery to remove the nodule and release the tendon can restore your normal hand function. This can usually be done under a local anaesthetic, so would not require you to stay in hospital overnight. Recovery from this procedure usually takes 4-6 weeks to be back to your everyday activities.

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