Trigger finger/thumb

Trigger finger affects the flexor tendon on the palm side of the hand, causing one or more of the fingers or thumb to become stuck and sometimes ‘catch’ when they are bent.


Some thickening of the flexor tendon and the flexor sheath causes a nodule to develop on the tendon itself. This nodule can then catch as it passes through the pulley system (sheath). It’s more common in women aged 40-60. It’s also more likely to affect you if you have other medical conditions including diabetes, Dupuytren’s contracture, and rheumatoid arthritis, or play sports that put strain on the hand.


These include small tender lumps that form below the affected finger or thumb on the palm of the hand, swelling, pain when you bend or straighten your finger and ‘catching’ when you straighten the joint. Your symptoms may be worse after rest and improve once you’re moving your joints.


Trigger finger (or thumb) can usually be diagnosed during a medical examination of your hand, without the need for X-rays or scans.


Non-operative treatment: resting your finger or thumb may be enough for your symptoms to disappear although you may need to wear a splint for a while and take anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and relieve pain. If your symptoms don’t improve, you may be offered a steroid injection.

Surgery: this involves widening the tendon sheath to allow the flexor tendon to slide through it more easily; this is usually done as a daycase procedure where a small opening is made in the palm to allow the surgeon to reach the tendon sheath. This is cut open and, as it heals, it tends to be looser and the tendon can move through it more easily.

Important: This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Everyone is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you’re worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.


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