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Getting a Grip on Trigger Finger: Diagnosis and Treatment

Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, can turn everyday tasks into painful ordeals. Understanding this condition is the first step to overcoming it. This blog will delve deep into the world of trigger finger, addressing its causes, anatomy, diagnosis, and management, with a particular focus on the non-surgical treatments offered at ACTIVATE Musculoskeletal Clinic in Kent.

Unpacking the Causes of Trigger Finger

Trigger finger occurs when inflammation narrows the space within the sheath that houses the flexor tendons in your fingers and thumb. This condition can arise due to various factors, such as:

  • Repetitive or strenuous use of the finger or thumb

  • Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or diabetes that cause inflammation

  • Occupations or hobbies that require repetitive hand use and prolonged gripping

Anatomy: A Close Look at Trigger Finger

The key to understanding trigger finger lies in our hand's anatomy. Your fingers and thumb are moved by flexor tendons, which slide through a tunnel-like tissue called a tendon sheath.

A crucial part of this sheath is a structure called the A1 pulley, located at the base of the finger. This pulley can become inflamed and thicken, creating a nodule that prevents the tendon from gliding smoothly. This can lead to the characteristic 'triggering' or 'snapping' experienced in trigger finger.

Spotting the Symptoms of Trigger Finger

Trigger finger can present several symptoms, some of which include:

  • Pain at the base of the finger or thumb when moving or at rest

  • Stiffness in the finger, particularly in the morning

  • A sensation of popping or clicking when moving the finger

  • In severe cases, the finger may lock in a bent position and then suddenly pop straight

Diagnosing Trigger Finger with Ultrasound

At ACTIVATE Musculoskeletal Clinic, we utilise ultrasound technology to diagnose trigger finger. The ultrasound helps visualise the size of the tendon, the A1 pulley, and any inflammation, confirming the diagnosis and guiding the treatment strategy.

Non-Surgical Treatments: Empowering You With Options

ACTIVATE Musculoskeletal Clinic believes in exploring all non-surgical treatment avenues before considering surgery. We offer a range of effective treatments for trigger finger:

  • Splinting: A splint can rest the finger, alleviating symptoms by keeping the finger in a straightened position.

  • Physiotherapy: Specific exercises can keep the finger flexible, improve strength, and reduce symptoms.

  • Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can minimise inflammation and provide relief from pain.

  • Steroid Injections: Steroid injections directly into the tendon sheath can reduce inflammation, relieving the symptoms of trigger finger in many patients.

Surgical Management

In cases where non-surgical treatments fail to alleviate symptoms, surgery may be considered. The most common surgical treatment is a procedure performed under local anaesthetic called 'Trigger Finger Release.' This involves cutting the A1 pulley , allowing the tendon to glide freely.

Reach Out and Let Us Help

Living with the discomfort of trigger finger can be challenging, but you're not alone. At ACTIVATE Musculoskeletal Clinic, our commitment to your health means we're here to support you every step of the way.

Don't let your symptoms dictate your life. Book your appointment with us today at and start your journey towards relief. Let us put our expertise to work and help you

About the Author: Dr. Mustafa Alnaib MBChB, MRCS, MSc, FEBOT is an orthopaedic surgeon, musculoskeletal doctor and Clinic Director at ACTIVATE Musculoskeletal Clinic in Kent.


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