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Trigger Finger

(Digital Flexor Tendinitis; Digital Flexor Tenosynovitis; Stenosing Flexor Tenosynovitis)

By

David R. Steinberg

, MD, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
Click here for the Professional Version
Topic Resources

Trigger finger is locking of a finger in a bent position caused by inflammation of a tendon in the finger.

In trigger finger, a finger becomes locked in a bent position. The finger locks when one of the tendons Tendons and Bursae Tendons are tough bands of connective tissue made up mostly of a rigid protein called collagen. Tendons firmly attach each end of a muscle to a bone. They are often located within sheaths, which... read more that flex the finger becomes inflamed and swollen, often with a noticeable round, raised area (nodule) in the palm. The inflammation and swelling may cause pain in the palm and in the base of the finger, especially when the finger is flexed and extended.

Normally, the tendon moves smoothly in and out of its surrounding sheath as the finger straightens and bends. In trigger finger, the inflamed tendon can move out of the sheath as the finger bends. However, when the tendon is very swollen, it cannot easily move back in as the finger tries to straighten, and therefore the finger locks. To straighten the finger, a person must pull on the finger to force the swollen area into the sheath—causing a sudden release and popping sensation similar to that felt when pulling a trigger.

A doctor makes the diagnosis of trigger finger by examining the hand and finger.

Trigger Finger Position

In trigger finger, a finger becomes locked in a bent position when one of the tendons that flex the finger becomes inflamed and swollen.

Trigger Finger Position

Treatment of Trigger Finger

  • Measures to relieve pain

  • Sometimes a corticosteroid injection

  • Sometimes surgery

Sometimes a corticosteroid Corticosteroids Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis in which joints, usually including those of the hands and feet, are inflamed, resulting in swelling, pain, and often destruction of joints.... read more Corticosteroids and a local anesthetic are injected into the tendon sheath and, along with splinting, may provide safe and temporary but rapid relief of pain and triggering.

Surgery is commonly needed to treat chronic trigger finger.

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Test your knowledge

Reactive Arthritis
Reactive arthritis causes inflammation of the joints and the tendon attachments at the joints. It is called “reactive” because it frequently occurs in reaction to an infection. In which of the following organs is such an infection most likely to occur? 
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