Trigger finger

What is it?

Trigger finger occurs when the flexor tendon on the front of the finger catches at the entrance to the sheath into the finger. This makes it difficult to bend the affected finger or thumb and can result in a clicking and catching sensation when the finger is straightened. As the symptoms worsen, your affected finger or thumb can become ‘locked’ in position and is difficult to straighten.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain on the front and at the base of the affected finger in the palm or thumb when moved or pressed
  • Stiffness or clicking when moving the affected finger or thumb
  • If the condition worsens, your finger may get stuck in a bent position and then suddenly pop straight. Eventually it may not fully bend or straighten.

Diagnosis and treatment options

Your consultant will examine you and ask you to demonstrate certain movements to check how well your finger/thumb is working. It is unlikely you will need any additional tests. An ultrasound scan may be helpful in select cases.

Treatments for trigger finger include:


Steroid injections are a common treatment for trigger finger. The steroid reduces swelling around your tendon which relieves the catching on the affected finger or thumb. This can help relieve pain and catching. It is effective in 50-70% of cases. (NHS data)


Surgery is recommended if other treatments such as steroid injections are unsuccessful. During surgery, your consultant will divide the opening of the sheath that surrounds the affected tendon relieving the catching.

The surgery only takes 10 minutes and a light bandage is applied. Often absorbable sutures are used and the wound needs to be kept dry and covered for 10 days. Most symptoms improve in the first few days and a return to normal activities should occur within a few weeks.

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