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young woman holding her wrist in pain

If you have trigger finger, our surgeons can help you find the right treatment. Penn Integrated Hand Program surgeons provide comprehensive non-surgical and surgical treatment options to effectively treat trigger finger.

The Penn Integrated Hand Program offers a team of specialists including orthopaedic surgeons, plastic surgeons, hand therapists and others who use the latest minimally invasive techniques to get your hand back to normal and your pain under control.

Diagnosing Trigger Finger

Our orthopaedic specialists will first examine your hand and discuss your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor may also order additional imaging tests.

Penn’s Integrated Hand Program uses musculoskeletal ultrasound, an advanced imaging technology, to help diagnose trigger finger. A musculoskeletal ultrasound uses high-resolution imaging that enables surgeons to see soft tissues such as nerves, tendons, muscles and ligaments to diagnose many different hand and wrist conditions. This technology enables physicians to make an accurate diagnosis in order to create a treatment plan that offers the best possible outcome for those with trigger finger.

Treatment for Trigger Finger

Depending on the severity of your case, we may first recommend a non-surgical approach to see if your condition improves.

Non-Surgical Options for Trigger Finger

There are several conservative, non-surgical methods that may be recommended to treat your trigger finger, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Splinting or immobilization
  • Steroid injections

If you do not find relief from non-surgical methods and your pain begins to affect your daily activities and quality of life, we may recommend surgery.

Surgery for Trigger Finger

Whenever possible, our orthopaedic surgeons use minimally-invasive surgical techniques to treat trigger finger. Surgery for trigger finger is usually a same-day procedure, lasting approximately 20 minutes. It requires only local anesthesia or twilight sedation (a minor dose of general anesthesia that sedates the patient but doesn't cause any loss of consciousness).

Because surgery is performed while the patient is awake with only local anesthesia, individuals experience a quicker recovery time, have a lower risk of side effects and complications and do not require an IV.

During the procedure, we perform a “surgical release” which gives the tendon more room to move by opening the pulley at the base of the finger. To access the pulley, we make a small incision in the palm of your hand and dissect the nerves that surround the tendon. Then we cut the pulley to free up the tendon.

During recovery, you may be asked to refrain from any forceful activity with your hand for a few weeks. You should be able to use the finger immediately following surgery, but it may take up to six months for all swelling and stiffness to go away.

What is trigger finger?

Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a common, treatable condition.

The hand is made up of tendons that cause our fingers and thumb to flex. These tendons are tethered close to the bones by connective tissue or “pulleys.” If a tendon develops a nodule or knot, or if the sheath covering the tendon is inflamed and swollen, the tendon can't move as easily, causing a bent or locked finger.

Symptoms of Trigger Finger

You may have trigger finger if you experience:

  • Pain at the base of the finger or end of the palm
  • Popping or clicking of finger
  • Sensation of locking or catching when you bend and straighten your finger
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling and tenderness

If you notice any signs and symptoms of trigger finger, you should make an appointment with a Penn Integrated Hand Program specialist for an evaluation.

Who can get trigger finger?

Trigger finger is sometimes the result of an underlying illness or medical condition that causes inflammation of the tissues of the hand, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

However, many people also develop trigger finger from:

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