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Trigger Finger

Trigger finger symptoms, care and treatment

Trigger Finger (finger flexor tenosynovitis, also known as trigger finger, trigger finger) is a common pain condition in people aged 40 to 60. When the patient bends his fingers, the joints seem "locked", and cannot continue to bend. They need to be relieved through medication, physical therapy, fixed braces and surgical treatment. 


Trigger finger cause     

Sometimes, a trigger finger is caused by flexing your fingers for a long time. When the flexor tendons of the fingers are strained, the tendon sheaths become inflamed and thickened. If the flexor tendons are compressed, the finger knots will become stiff and unable to be straightened. 

The main cause of trigger finger is long-term labor and bending of fingers, or long-term holding or lifting of heavy objects. For example:  

  • Long-term typing (using computer and mobile phone keyboards)  
  • Mouse or tablet in hand  

However, a small number of patients develop trigger finger due to congenital or metabolic problems (such as diabetes). People with rheumatoid arthritis are also at risk of developing trigger fingers. 


Symptoms of trigger finger    

Common symptoms of trigger finger include: 

  • After getting up or working, you feel soreness at the joint between your fingers and palms 
  • Reduced finger mobility 
  • After bending the finger, it cannot be fully straightened 
  • Pain when pressing the base of the finger 
  • In severe cases, the fingers can become bent and stuck, preventing them from fully bending and straightening. 

According to the Hospital Bureau document, trigger fingers can be classified into 4 levels depending on the severity of symptoms: 

Stage 1 

Inflamed finger tendon swelling and pain 

Stage 2 

I can straighten my fingers, but there is a "stuck" feeling 

Stage 3 

Affected finger requires external assistance to straighten 

Stage 4 

Unable to straighten the affected finger even with great effort 


How to diagnose trigger finger 

The diagnosis of trigger finger is relatively simple. The doctor will check the patient's affected area and observe whether the affected area can bend and straighten normally by opening and closing the palm. Diagnosis also does not require an X-ray. 

Trigger finger treatment 

The treatment methods for trigger finger are divided into four major directions: drug treatment, physical therapy, fixed braces and surgical treatment  

Medical treatment 

Patients with mild symptoms may consider taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory analgesics (NSAIDs) to reduce pain and inflammation. Patients with severe conditions may consider local injection of steroids to achieve anti-inflammatory effects faster.  


Depending on the patient's condition and severity, the doctor will advise the patient to perform appropriate stretching exercises to relieve the problem of finger stiffness and improve the range of motion of the affected area. 

Physical therapy actions include "passive flexion and tendon stretching exercises" (stretching exercises), performed on the affected area for about 10 seconds and repeated 10 times. Patients can also massage the nodules on their fingers or use warm compresses to increase blood circulation in the affected area and soften the tendons. 

Fixed bracket 

Depending on the situation, the doctor may install a fixator on the affected area to stabilise the finger. However, this method is rarely used and is replaced by physical therapy. 

Surgical treatment 

When the effects of the above treatments are not significant, surgical treatment is the last option. Surgery involves carefully cutting open the affected tendon to allow the tendon to move freely again. After surgery, patients can recover in about 2 to 4 weeks. 


Trigger finger prevention  

The simplest and most effective way to prevent trigger finger is to maintain a correct posture and do more stretching movements of the palms and fingers. In addition, you can also follow the following medical advice: 

  • Avoid working with the same hand or fingers continuously; alternate hands. 
  • Take regular breaks during work 
  • Use a keyboard with soft keys 


OT&P Medical Advice 

Trigger finger is not an incurable disease and can be avoided by stretching regularly and taking appropriate rest. If you have any questions or would like to receive proper treatment, please ask your family doctor for more information or make an appointment below. 

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Information provided by:

Victor Chan headshot

Victor Chan

OT&P Healthcare

Please note that all medical articles featured on our website have been reviewed by qualified healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for a personal consultation with a qualified medical professional on the reader's medical condition.