Conditions & Treatments
Stenosing tenosynovitis, commonly known as “trigger finger” or “trigger thumb”, involves the tendons in the hand that bend the fingers. The tendons work like long ropes connecting the muscles of the forearm with the bones of the fingers and thumb. In the finger, the pulleys are a series of rings that form a tunnel through which the tendons must glide, much like the guides on a fishing rod through which the line (or tendon) must pass.
Trigger finger/thumb occurs when the pulley at the base of the finger becomes too thick and constricting around the tendon, making it hard for the tendon to move freely through the pulley. Sometimes the tendon develops a nodule (knot) or swelling of its lining. Because of the increased resistance to the gliding of the tendon through the pulley, one may feel pain, popping, or a catching feeling in the finger or thumb. When the tendon catches, it produces irritation and more swelling of the pulley. This causes a vicious cycle of triggering and thickening of the pulley. Sometimes the finger becomes stuck or locked, and is hard to straighten or bend. Causes for this condition are not always clear. Some trigger fingers are associated with medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and diabetes.
Symptoms of Trigger Finger
- Trigger finger/thumb may start with discomfort felt at the base of the finger or thumb, where they join the palm.
- Area is often tender to local pressure.
- A nodule may sometimes appear at the base of the finger or thumb.
- The finger begins to trigger or lock.
Trigger Finger Treatment Options
The goal of treatment in trigger finger/thumb is to eliminate the catching or locking and allow full movement of the finger or thumb without discomfort. The wearing of a splint or taking an oral anti-inflammatory medication may sometimes help. Treatment may also include changing activities to reduce swelling. An injection of steroid into the area around the tendon and pulley is often effective in relieving the trigger finger/thumb.
If non-surgical forms of treatment do not relieve the symptoms, a surgical procedure known as Trigger Finger Release may be recommended. The goal of surgery is to open the pulley at the base of the finger so that the tendon can glide more freely. Active motion of the finger generally begins immediately after surgery. Some patients may feel tenderness, discomfort, and swelling about the area of their surgery longer than others. Occasionally, hand therapy is required after surgery to regain better use.
If you have questions, or to make an appointment, call: 404-778-3350.
NewsView all News
Emory Healthcare news from the Emory News Center
Photos: Emory Denim Day
April 25, 2017
Two Emory Healthcare nurses inducted as fellows into American College of Critical Care Medicine
April 25, 2017
New study uses freezing technique to target vagus nerve and obesity
April 24, 2017
Father, son share special bond; both receive cochlear implants
April 21, 2017
Photos: Ebola care team attends 'Facing Darkness' screening
April 20, 2017
Ready, set, go! for Heel to Heal Superhero 5K and Fundraiser
April 18, 2017
SIBR program shows teamwork in healthcare
April 17, 2017
Expert Q&A: The antibiotic resistance threat
April 12, 2017
Christy M. Norman joins Emory Healthcare as vice president of pharmacy services
April 07, 2017
Medical faculty recognized by their Emory peers on Doctors' Day
April 05, 2017