A young man has a strong grip on a power sprayer as he paints something in a workshop.

Trigger finger

Trigger finger treatment to help you regain control of your hand

Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that makes it hard to straighten your finger. Trigger finger occurs when the soft tissues of a tendon in your finger thicken, preventing the tendon from moving freely. This causes the finger to click, catch or lock as it bends and straightens.

It can be painful and frustrating to lose function of your finger, but we’re here to help. Our team of orthopedists, board-certified hand therapists and hand surgeons at TRIA can help you regain function and control of your hand. We can treat even the most severe cases of trigger finger with a wide range of treatments, including hand therapy, the only integrative medicine for managing hand and wrist pain in the Twin Cities, and trigger finger release surgery.

"The whole team was excellent. They were very kind and made it a point to make me feel relaxed and comfortable about my surgery and aftercare."

Symptoms of trigger finger

Trigger finger gets its name because of the snap the finger makes when it becomes unstuck. But there are other common symptoms to watch for:

  • Finger sometimes becomes stuck or “locked”, making it difficult to straighten
  • Feeling as though the middle knuckle of the finger or top knuckle of the thumb is the problem when finger locks
  • Needing to use the opposite hand to fully straighten the finger
  • Discomfort or tenderness at the base of the finger or thumb on the palm side of the hand
  • Catching, popping or clicking as the finger moves
  • Swelling or a small lump in the finger

If you have any of these symptoms, it might be time to make an appointment with a hand specialist.

What causes trigger finger?

The cause of trigger finger isn’t always clear, and we don’t need to know the cause to treat your condition.

We do know that trigger finger is more common in people who have rheumatoid arthritis, gout, diabetes or another illness that causes inflammation. Repeated gripping of the hands can also increase your risk of developing trigger finger. People who work with tools or operate heavy machinery can be more likely to have trigger finger.

Treatments for trigger finger

Whether your condition is mild or severe, our team of hand specialists can help you get back the function of your finger. We’ll work with you to identify the best treatment option for you. Common treatments for trigger finger include:

Wearing a splint at night

A splint can limit the full motion of the tendon, which can help the tendon heal. Splints for trigger finger keep the finger or thumb straight. Wearing a splint at night can prevent you from bending your affected finger while you’re sleeping and make it easier to straighten your finger during the day.

Our board-certified hand therapists can custom fit splints and other hand orthotics to ensure a comfortable, ideal fit.

Corticosteroid injections

Corticosteroids are a strong anti-inflammatory medicine. When injected into the affected finger, corticosteroids can relieve tendon inflammation that’s causing trigger finger symptoms. It can also provide short-term pain relief and reduce inflammation when other medications aren’t effective or not an option.

Hand therapy

At TRIA, our specialized hand therapists work closely with hand surgeons and other orthopedic specialists to design an individualized treatment program for you.

Hand therapy programs can include a combination of targeted hand exercises, activity modification, ergonomics, patient education and other specialized treatments. We’ll help you learn how to modify your routine to avoid prolonged or repetitive gripping so you can protect the tendons in your fingers.

Trigger finger release surgery

When other treatment options aren’t effective, we might recommend trigger finger release surgery. During this procedure, our hand surgeons surgically separate the inflamed tendon from the muscle in your affected finger. This releases the tendon and gives you full control over your finger again.

Trigger finger release surgery is an outpatient surgery performed in our clinics. When you arrive, we’ll use local anesthetic to numb your hand and wrist so you’ll be comfortable during the procedure. Since you won’t be under general anesthesia, you can go home shortly after your appointment. Outpatient procedures are typically more comfortable and affordable for our patients.

Specialty treatment programs for trigger finger

We are the only orthopedic practice that has an integrative medicine program to manage hand and wrist pain. Integrative medicine uses holistic treatments that are scientifically proven to help reduce pain and promote healing, including acupuncture, our living well consults and others.

Integrative medicine can be used to complement your treatment program, or after trigger finger release surgery to help you recover.

TRIA is at the forefront of orthobiologics a treatment that uses substances naturally found in the body to treat conditions of the hand and wrist. Though the use of orthobiologics to treat trigger finger is still being studied, research has shown that precise platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections can reduce swelling and irritation in the affected finger.

If you’re a good candidate for orthobiologic treatment, our hand specialists will talk with you about what to expect and why it’s a good fit for you.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

No, you can make an appointment directly with one of our hand specialists or walk in to one of our orthopedic urgent care locations.

Trigger finger isn’t a serious condition, but going too long without treatment might cause your finger to be permanently stuck in a bent or straight position.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of trigger finger, it might be time to make an appointment with one of our hand specialists to talk about treatment options.

Our hand specialists can typically diagnose trigger finger by talking with you about your symptoms and performing a physical exam. If you’re concerned about your symptoms, make an appointment with one of our hand specialists.

While it’s best to get a doctor’s help with trigger finger symptoms, there are a few things you can do at home. Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen can help relieve pain and swelling in the finger.

You can also rest your finger and avoid activities where you need to use your hand to grip things for prolonged lengths of time. But we know that resting your hand can keep you from work or activities that you enjoy. If you notice that trigger finger symptoms are keeping you from your daily routine, make an appointment with one of our hand specialists.

We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, PreferredOne and many others.

You can check with your insurance to see if your plan covers part or all of the services needed. Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.

Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are member services numbers to help you get started: