Symptoms and Signs of Trigger Finger (Stenosing Flexor Tenosynovitis)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/17/2022

Doctor's Notes on Trigger Finger (Stenosing Flexor Tenosynovitis)

Trigger finger (also termed stenosing flexor tenosynovitis) is a form of tendinitis when a finger becomes fixed in a flexed position, like the index finger is pulling a trigger of a gun. Signs and symptoms of trigger finger may start out as mild but can progress to more severe symptoms. For example, it can start as finger pain extending from the finger's base to the fingertip, stiffness in the morning, tenderness, and/or a nodule in the palm where the base of the affected finger attaches; with progression, the finger may emit sounds of popping, snapping, or cracking as the finger straightens, an inability to fully flex the finger, and/or the affected finger locks in a flexed position that needs the opposite hand to pull it straight.

The cause of trigger finger is inflammation of the tendon that bends the finger. Any problem that causes inflammation of the tendon (repeated tight gripping of vibrating machinery, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, for example) can be a risk factor for trigger finger development.

What Are the Treatments for Trigger Finger?

Treatments for trigger finger varies on its duration and severity. Main treatments consist of the following:

  • NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen for pain control
  • Therapies
    • Rest: Avoid gripping and/or vibrations, for example, that bring on symptoms.
    • Use padded gloves to protect the finger.
    • A splint may help to help rest the finger.
    • Stretching exercises help mobility.
  • Other procedures (usually for severe problems)
    • Steroid injection can decrease inflammation of tendon and adjacent areas.
    • Percutaneous release: Tendon's constriction is broken up with a needle.
    • Surgery: cuts open the constriction of the tendon sheath

Your doctor can help you decide what treatments will help your condition.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.