Trigger Finger

Trigger finger affects the tendons that move the fingers, and feels like there is a locking or catching when the fingers are bent or straightened. There also can be pain or stiffness in the fingers. In severe cases, the finger becomes stuck in the bent position. Trigger finger can affect all the fingers and the thumb, but the most common areas affected are the ring finger and thumb.

Trigger finger occurs when the tendon that controls that finger can’t move smoothly in the sheath that surrounds it. This can happen if part of the sheath becomes swollen, or if a small lump forms on the tendon.

Women over the age of 50 are more likely to develop trigger finger than other groups. If you have diabetes, low thyroid function or rheumatoid arthritis, you may be at a higher risk to get trigger finger.

The Norton Louisville Arm & Hand specialists have offices in downtown Louisville, St. Matthews and on the Norton Brownsboro Hospital campus, with appointments often available within a week and sometimes the same day. Our fellowship-trained and board-certified physicians have the experience and expertise to know when conservative treatment approaches can help and when surgery will be the only potential source of relief.

Symptoms of Trigger Finger

Symptoms of trigger finger often start gradually without a clear injury, and can include:

  • A tender lump at the base of the affected finger or thumb on the palm side of the hand
  • A catching, popping or locking sensation with movement
  • Pain when bending or straightening the finger

Stiffness and locking tend to be worse after periods of inactivity, such as when you wake up in the morning. Symptoms may improve throughout the day with consistent, gentle use of the hand.

Treatment for Trigger Finger

The first course of trigger finger treatment is nonsurgical and includes:

  • Resting the affected hand and avoiding activities that make it worse may help to resolve the condition.
  • Wearing a splint at night to keep the affected finger or thumb in a straight position while you sleep may help.
  • Gentle stretching exercises can help decrease stiffness and improve range of motion in the involved area.
  • Over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can help relieve pain and swelling.
  • Steroid injections into the tendon sheath at the base of the affected finger can give relief.

Surgery is considered if the above treatments do not help. Surgery releases the tendon in the affected finger, allowing it to glide easily without clicking, catching or locking.

Expertise in Hand Care

Our arm and hand specialists have offices in downtown Louisville, St. Matthews and on the Norton Brownsboro Hospital campus. As a leader in orthopedic care in Louisville, we have a full range of options to tailor treatment to your lifestyle and condition. If you need arm or hand surgery, the specialists at Norton Louisville Arm & Hand have the expertise and skill to get you moving again.

Why Choose Norton Louisville Arm & Hand

  • Nine board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians at four locations in Louisville provide comprehensive treatment — often without surgery.
  • Our providers offer treatments for common conditions such as carpal tunnel, arthritis, ganglion cyst, mallet finger, trigger finger, numbness in the hands and wrists, and fractures of the fingers, hand, wrist and elbow.
  • Norton Louisville Arm & Hand specialists include national leaders in treating the unique needs of growing children.
  • Get an appointment within a week and sometimes the same day.
  • Medicare, Medicaid, workers’ compensation and most major commercial insurance plans accepted.
  • Book appointments, get alerts when an earlier appointment becomes available, communicate with your medical provider, refill prescriptions and more through your free Norton MyChart account.

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