Trigger Finger

Trigger finger occurs when the flexor tendon becomes irritated and begins to thicken, eventually creating nodules making it difficult for the joint to bend and straighten. When the tendon is lengthening, it becomes momentarily stuck then quickly pops out into extension.

Causes and risk factors

  • Trigger finger is most common in women
  • Certain medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Overuse, such as repetitive gripping
  • On occasions traumatic injuries may lead to trigger finger


  • Swelling
  • Tender lump in the hand
  • Popping and catching in the finger joints
  • Pain when extending or bending the finger
  • Stiffness in the fingers after prolonged inactivity, like sleeping

Diagnosis and treatment

If symptoms are mild and generally pain free, your doctor may suggest resting the finger and/or placing it in a custom splint. Initial home treatment involves anti-inflammatory medications, massage, heat and working on range of motion of the digit. If symptoms persist, most commonly your doctor will recommend a steroid injection. If the symptoms do not resolve, surgery may be an option to relieve pain and restore function.