Bone and Joint Blog

Trigger Finger: Causes and Symptoms

Posted Jun 2, 2019 10:25:00 AM

Typing, texting, fastening a button – these are all simple daily tasks that require dexterity and the use of our fingers. They’ve become so commonplace, that we don’t often think about them.  But, when pain, popping, or other symptoms begin to affect the use of our fingers, it can quickly become both uncomfortable and frustrating.  One potential cause of such symptoms is a condition commonly known as trigger finger.

What is Trigger Finger?

Medically known as stenosing tenosynovitis, trigger finger is a condition that causes symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and locking or catching of the joint when attempting to bend or straighten the affected finger.  In severe cases, the finger may become stuck in a bent position, requiring the patient to physically straighten it with the opposite hand.  The most commonly affected digits are the ring finger and thumb.  The condition may also be referred to as trigger thumb.

What Causes Trigger Finger?

Flexor tendons connect fingers to the muscles of the forearms, allowing them to move as the muscles contract.  These tendons are held closely to the finger bones by a tendon sheath and pulleys.  When healthy, the tendons can glide effortlessly through these pulleys to move the fingers.  However, when a pulley becomes inflamed, it can impede movement of the tendon, and thereby, movement of the fingers as well. 

There are various causes that may result in an inflamed pulley.  These include medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and gout, as well as damage resulting from forceful or extensive use of the finger or thumb.  The most common site of inflammation is the A1 pulley located at the base of the finger, near the tendon sheath opening.

What are the Symptoms of Trigger Finger?

The first sign of trigger finger is often tenderness at the base of the digit, near the location of the A1 pulley.  There may also be a lump, which is sensitive to pressure.  Additional symptoms that may later develop include:

  • Pain when bending or straightening the affected finger
  • Sensation of the finger catching or popping with movement
  • Limited range of motion in the finger
  • The finger becoming stuck in a bent position

Treating Trigger Finger in Baton Rouge

Fortunately for sufferers of trigger finger, there is a wide range of treatment options available from minimally invasive to surgical.  Determining which method best suits each patient will depend on factors such as cause and severity and is best left to specialists who are trained and experienced in conditions of the hand.  At the Bone and Joint Clinic of Baton Rouge, orthopedic hand specialists frequently diagnose and treat trigger finger and its related symptoms.