Trigger finger is a condition that affects the tendons in your fingers or thumb and limits finger movement. When you try to straighten your finger, it will lock or catch before popping out straight. The muscles that move the fingers and thumb are located in the forearm, and have long tendons — called the flexor tendons — which extend through the wrist and attach to the small bones of the fingers and thumb. These flexor tendons control the movements of the fingers and thumb, and when you bend or straighten your finger, the flexor tendon slides through a snug tunnel, called the tendon sheath, that keeps the tendon in place next to the bones. The flexor tendon can become irritated as it slides through the tendon sheath tunnel or pulley, and may thicken and form nodules, making its passage through the tunnel more difficult. The tendon sheath may also thicken, causing the opening of the tunnel to become smaller. If you have trigger finger, the tendon becomes momentarily stuck at the mouth of the tendon sheath tunnel when you try to straighten your finger. You might feel a pop as the tendon slips through the tight area and your finger will suddenly shoot straight out. The cause of trigger finger is unknown. There are factors that put people at greater risk for developing it, including diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms of trigger finger usually start without any injury, although they may follow a period of heavy hand use. Symptoms may include: A tender lump in your palm, swelling, catching or popping sensation in your finger or thumb joints, pain when bending or straightening your finger. Stiffness and catching tend to be worse after inactivity, such as when you wake in the morning. Your fingers will often loosen up as you move them.

Sometimes, when the tendon breaks free, it may feel like your finger joint is dislocating. In severe cases of trigger finger, the finger cannot be straightened, even with help. Sometimes, one or more fingers are affected.

The diagnosis of trigger finger is typically made by a combination of the patient’s history, the findings on physical examination.
Mild symptoms can benefit from rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and occasionally steroid injections in the tendon sheath. If symptoms persist surgery is considered, in order to help the patient regain pain-free finger motion and hand function. Surgery involves splitting the pulley responsible for the tendon constriction, to allow freedom of movement.

At Oceana Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center, Dr. Aboka brings added expertise in minimally invasive treatment of Trigger Finger and Thumb, facilitating your return to pain-free function. This procedure is an outpatient/same-day surgery, and is done through a small incision, leading to less pain and scarring and quicker recovery and return to normal function.