Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Trigger Finger

Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition where one of the fingers or thumb gets stuck in a bent position due to inflammation of the flexor tendon sheath. The affected finger may straighten with a snap or pop, like a trigger being pulled and released.

Common Symptoms

  • A tender lump or nodule at the base of the affected finger/thumb
  • Catching, popping, or locking sensation when bending or straightening the finger
  • Pain and stiffness in the finger, often worse in the morning

Cause & Anatomy

The exact cause is unknown, but it is associated with forceful hand activities, certain medical conditions like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, and increasing age. Most people notice the popping without a specific event or reason.

The flexor tendons that bend the fingers pass through a series of pulley-like structures called tendon sheaths. Inflammation of these sheaths causes swelling and constriction, leading to the tendon getting stuck.


Trigger finger is typically diagnosed through a physical examination by a healthcare provider, who will check for tenderness, thickening of the tendon sheath, and the characteristic catching or locking sensation. Imaging tests like X-rays are usually not required.


Avoiding repetitive gripping or forceful use of the hand, taking breaks, and using proper ergonomics can help prevent trigger finger. Those with risk factors like diabetes should be cautious.


  • Nonsurgical: Rest, splinting, stretching exercises, NSAIDs, and steroid injections
  • Surgical: If nonsurgical treatment fails, a trigger finger release surgery may be performed to release the constricted tendon sheath

Surgery and Rehabilitation

  • The surgery involves making a small incision in the palm to cut the constricted tendon sheath, allowing the tendon to glide freely. Recovery can take a few weeks to months, with hand exercises recommended to regain full range of motion.


Is trigger finger a type of arthritis?
No, trigger finger is not a type of arthritis. It is caused by inflammation of the tendon sheath, while arthritis affects the joints.

Can trigger finger heal on its own?
Trigger finger typically does may resolve on its own but often requires treatment to prevent permanent stiffness and loss of function.

Is trigger finger contagious?
No, trigger finger is not contagious. It is a condition caused by inflammation and mechanical issues within the hand.

It is critical to maintain full mobility of the joints to prevent permanent stiffness. Ask your doctor how to do these exercises.

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