Trigger finger

Trigger finger occurs when the flexor tendons no longer slide freely through their respective sheaths.

A nodule or swelling may appear, as well as pain due to greater resistance when the tendons glide through the sheath.

Trigger finger: symptoms and diagnosis

Patients experience either isolated pain or pain associated with a feeling that the finger is locked in a bent or straight position. This generally happens when waking up in the morning.

The condition usually affects the thumb and the ring finger, but the other fingers can also be affected.

It is also a very common condition in diabetic patients.

In the majority of cases, there is no obvious cause, but repetitive manual work and occasional heavy work can trigger it.

It can also appear after surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome although it isn’t considered a complication.

Trigger finger: treatment and progression

Medical treatment

The doctor will first give a corticosteroid injection (providing there is no medical contraindication), which is usually effective in more than 50 % of cases.

After the injection, the finger may be more painful for 24 to 48 hours. Results will only show approximately four weeks later.


In case of recurrence or no improvement, the patient may undergo surgery to release the A1 pulley in the palm of the hand and hence the trapped flexor tendons. The operation takes place under local anaesthetic at a day clinic.

If the finger won’t straighten properly after the operation, a splint will be applied.

Trigger finger: complications

The risk of complication is very low.

Infection is always possible, as is the case for any surgical procedure.

There may be a large scar that could be sensitive to touch for several weeks following the operation.

In the case of heavy manual labour, it is recommended that the patient take three to four weeks off work. In the case of administrative work, the patient will be required to take less time off work (two weeks in general).