Trigger Finger: When Your Finger “Gets Stuck”

This topic came to our attention thanks to a discussion on the Arthritis Forum of our sister site,

Someone described how a finger “got stuck” in a bent position and was looking for possible causes. It wasn’t long before another user suggested the likely cause: trigger finger.

rheumatoid arthritis in the hand
Rheumatoid arthritis, which already may cause inflammation in the hand, can also raise your risk for trigger finger. Learn more: What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Trigger finger is caused when the sheath that encases the tendon in a finger or thumb becomes inflamed. This causes the tendon to catch on the sheath, locking the finger in place. Once the finger is manually straightened, it may snap straight out as the tendon moves again suddenly.

  • See How Arthritis Causes Joint Pain

Despite its name, trigger finger most often affects the ring finger or thumb—and can also affect multiple fingers at once.

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Other symptoms of trigger finger include:

  • Painful snapping sensation when bending or straightening your finger
  • A tender bump where the base of your finger meets the palm
  • Swelling
  • Symptoms that are worse in the morning

Trigger finger can occur in both children and adults, but some factors raise your risk:

  • Being female
  • Being older than 45
  • Having rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or diabetes
  • Doing work or activities that involve repeated gripping movement

To treat trigger finger, the goal is to bring down the inflammation causing the tendon to catch. This can be done by immobilizing the finger using a splint or tape and/or by icing the finger.

  • See Do It Yourself: Ice Pack and Heat Pack

If symptoms persist, your doctor may suggest a cortisone injection to relieve inflammation or possibly even surgery.

  • See What to Know Before Getting a Cortisone Injection


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