Trigger Finger

Trigger finger is Triggering, is a descriptive term – derived from the well-known position that a finger adopts when pulling on the trigger of a gun. It basically means that a flexor tendon of your finger is intermittently trapped and causes your finger to have abnormal movements such as clicking and stiffness.

Who gets Trigger finger?

This flexed position can occur in any of the 5 digits including your thumb. It can occur in adults and occasionally in young children

What is happening in Trigger Finger?

It is always caused by a flexor tendon not gliding fully through its tendon sheath. The finger becomes either stuck in a flexed position or cannot flex at all. It often clicks. Patients often believe their joint is clicking; (because they are trying to move the joint) whereas it is truly their tendon.

Why does Trigger Finger happen?

The flexor tendon sheath is a series of “pulleys” that keep our tendons close to the bones, without these pulleys our tendons would “bowstring” in as straight line over the shortest possible distance, when we flex our bones and joints. There is a mismatch in size, whereby either the tendon is too wide for its tunnel (sheath, pulley) or the tunnel is too narrow for the tendon. The tendon upon attempting to glide become stuck halfway and might click as it snaps through the tightly constricted tunnel

Signs & Symptoms

  • Clicking
  • Snapping
  • Pain when moving finger

What should I do about trigger finger it?

If you are experiencing painful clicking of your finger; or if you have a new pain when attempting to move the finger, then ask your GP for a referral. Some patients try anti-inflammatory tablets.

What are the treatment options Trigger Finger?

Thankfully, this is perhaps the easiest problem to solve in all of hand surgery.

There are very simply only 2 treatments to consider

  • A cortisone injection – which will address the milder cases, or
  • Surgery – which takes 5 minutes. (Cortisone can be done in the office)

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. You will be pleased to know that the treatments are typically very effective and relative rapid results are common.

Depending on your type of work, you may need 1 day off for office work, or up to 3-4 weeks if you’re a manual labourer.

Surgery is done under a general anaesthetic. It requires an assistant to hold the 2 digital nerve (important) out of the way while the surgeon incises the flexor sheath – we call this the A1 pulley release.