Trigger finger is commonly seen in people who perform tasks that require strenuous repetitive movements like gripping or using force. With trigger finger or trigger thumb, tendons that attach muscles to bones in the hand become inflamed and can no longer slide through tunnels of tissue called a sheath. Bumps can also form on the tendon, making it more difficult to slide through the sheath.
Symptoms of trigger finger or trigger thumb include a popping or grating sensation when moving the finger or thumb, a bump under the skin at the base of the affected finger, soreness gripping, pain or stiffness when bending the finger, and locking of the finger or thumb in a bent position. It is common for a person to wake up in the morning with the finger held in a bent position. In severe cases, the finger can become permanently locked in the bent position.
Trigger finger or trigger thumb is usually diagnosed based on medical history and a physical exam. During the exam, the physician will ask you to open and close your hand while looking at motion and evidence of locking.
For mild cases of trigger finger or trigger thumb, modifying activities, splinting, and anti-inflammatories may be used. Steroid injections are another common treatment option, although this is less effective in patients with diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. Surgery to open the constricted section of tendon sheath followed by hand therapy may be recommended in severe cases.