Trigger Finger

Trigger finger is a condition that involves the pulleys and flexor tendons in the hand that bend the fingers. The flexor tendons are “ropes” that connect the muscles to the fingertips. The pulleys are “tunnels” that the tendons travel through. Sometimes the pulley gets thick, or the tendon develops a knot, both of which make it difficult for the tendon to glide within the pulley.

The University of Michigan hand surgery team specializes in the treatment of trigger finger, from mild to severe. Our goal is to restore comfort and function as soon as possible with minimal impact on the patient’s quality of life.

Risk Factors for Trigger Finger

In most cases there is not a clear cause of trigger finger, but it can be associated with medical conditions such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Trigger finger is more common in women than men, and in people 40 to 60 years old.

Symptoms of Trigger Finger

Common signs and symptoms of trigger finger include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the palm at the base of the finger
  • Popping or catching of the finger
  • Finger stuck or locked when bent towards palm

Diagnosis of Trigger Finger

A thorough physical examination and discussion of the patient’s medical history, including current and past conditions, prior injuries and symptoms, will help diagnose trigger finger.

Treatment of Trigger Finger

Treatment will depend on the severity of symptoms, which may be relieved without surgery. 

Non-surgical treatments include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen
  • Cortisone injections to reduce pain and swelling

If non-surgical treatment does not work, surgery may be recommended. The procedure will open the pulley to allow better tendon gliding and to relieve the catching of the finger. 

Hand Therapy and Rehabilitation for Trigger Finger

Therapy for post-surgical trigger finger repair is provided on site at the University of Michigan’s Hand Program by our team of occupational and physical therapists under the direction of a trained hand therapist. Referrals to local providers can be arranged closer to home as a more convenient option for patients.

The ultimate goal of therapy and rehabilitation is the restoration and optimization of hand function and improved overall quality of life. We offer treatment plans that are tailored to fit each patient’s condition, living and work requirements.

Contact Us

If you are considering treatment for trigger finger, the University of Michigan hand surgeons will guide you, from consultation to recovery, to the best procedures for your individual needs. Our hand surgeons have dual appointments in Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery with a specialization in Hand. Patients may be seen in the Orthopaedic Clinic or the Plastic Surgery Clinic for treatment of hand conditions, or referred to Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for non-surgical treatment.

Visit the Make an Appointment at the Comprehensive Hand Center page for contact information for both surgical and non-surgical treatment teams.