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Trigger finger – causes, symptoms and associated risk factors

This is a condition in which one of our fingers gets stuck in a bent position. Our finger can bend or straighten with a snap, like a trigger being pulled and released. This condition is also known as stenosing tenosynovitis. It is happening when the inflammation narrows the space within the sheath which is surrounding the tendon in the affected finger. If this condition is severe, then the finger can become locked in a bent position. Those people whose work or hobbies require repetitive gripping actions are having increased risk of getting trigger finger. Also it is more common condition in women and people who suffer from diabetes [1]. The treatment of trigger finger depends on the severity of it. It is known that the musicians, industrial workers and farmers are often getting trigger finger because they repeat finger and thumb movements a lot [2]. Also smokers can get trigger finger (trigger thumb) from the repeated use of a lighter [3]. There are many studies in which are said that the trigger finger is more common in women than men [4]. This condition tends to happen most often in people who are between 40 and 60 years.

Trigger finger symptoms

The signs and symptoms of the trigger finger can progress from mild to severe and they include:

  • People can have finger stiffness which is particularly happening in the morning
  • As someone moves his/her finger, then he or she can have a popping or clicking sensation
  • Also people can have tenderness or a bump (nodule) in the palm which is at the base of the affected finger
  • People can have finger locking or catching in a bent position and this can suddenly pop straight
  • Also the finger can get locked in a bent position and the affected person is unable to straighten

This condition can affect any finger and the thumb is also included. Also you should know that more than one finger can be affected at a time and also the both hands can be involved. The triggering is usually more pronounced in the morning, while straightening your finger or firmly grasping an object. If you have noticed that your finger joint is hot and inflamed, then you should seek immediate medical care because these signs can indicate an infection. Also you should visit your doctor if you have any pain, numbness, catching or stiffness in a finger joint. Your doctor will make a physical exam of your hand and fingers. There are some cases when the finger can be swollen and there can be a bump over the joint in the palm of the hand. Also the finger can be locked in bent position or it can be painful and stiff. You should know that no lab tests or X – rays are used to diagnose this condition.

Trigger finger

Trigger finger causes

We know that tendons are fibrous cords which are attaching muscle to bone. A protective sheath is surrounding each tendon. When the affected finger’s tendon sheath becomes inflamed and irritated, then the trigger finger is happening. This condition interferes with the normal gliding motion of the tendon through the sheath. The prolonged irritation of the tendon sheath can produce thickening, scarring and the formation of bumps in the tendon (nodules) that impede the tendon’s motion even more. The forceful use of the finger or thumb or a repeated movement of finger or thumb is cause for the trigger finger. Also it is known that diabetes, gout and rheumatoid arthritis can lead to the trigger finger. [1]

Risk factors: There are some factors which can increase your risk of developing trigger fingers such as

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome surgery: The trigger finger can be a complication which is associated with surgery for the carpal tunnel syndrome, especially this can happen during the first 6 months after surgery. [5]
  • Your sex: It is known fact that the trigger finger is more common in women than men. [4]
  • Certain health problems: Those people who have rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes are having increased risk of developing trigger finger. [1]
  • Repeated gripping: It is known that hobbies and occupations which are involving hand use and prolonged gripping can increase the risk of trigger finger. [2,3]


[1] Griggs SM, Weiss APC, Lane LB, et al. Treatment of trigger finger in patients with diabetes mellitus. The Journal of Hand Surgery. 1995;20(5):787-9.

[2] Yavari M, Hassanpour SE, Mosavizadeh SM. Multiple trigger fingers in a musician: A case report. Archives of Iranian Medicine. 2010;13(3):251-2.

[3] Michigan Surgery Specialists. The surprising effects of smoking on the hands. Retrieved from

[4] Makkouk AH, Oetgen ME, Swigart CR, Dodds SD. Trigger finger: etiology, evaluation, and treatment. Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine. 2008;1(2):92–6.

[5] Yeh KT, Lee RP, Yu TC, et al. Risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome or trigger finger following distal radius fracture: a nationwide study. Scientific Reports. 2020.

Merlin Joy
Merlin Joy
Holding a doctorate degree, Dr. Merlin Joy AKA Sinatra developed passion for home remedies from her mother, grand father and grandmother. Sinatra loves to read books and hiking. You can contact her through [email protected]


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