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Trigger Finger

Trigger finger affects the movement of the tendons within the hand. Tendons are the thick cord like strands of fibrous tissue that connect the bones of the forearm to the muscles in the fingers and thumbs. The tendons are held in place on the bones by a series of ligaments called ‘pulleys’ – these form a tunnel – like ‘sheath’ on the surface of the bone through which the tendons run.

The sheath is lined with a slippery coating called tenosynovium, which helps to prevent friction and keeps the tendons running smoothly. This is essential to allow the fingers and thumb to bend normally. The opening of the sheath is in the palm at the base of the fingers.

In trigger finger, the smooth running of the tendon can be damaged because the opening of the sheath has thickened. This could be due to certain conditions such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, however in most cases the cause is unknown.

As a result of the thickening the tendon gets caught in the opening of the sheath when the finger is bent, and gives a painful click (like a trigger) when it is straightened.

In some instances the finger simply won’t bend properly and in others, the tendon develops a nodule (bump), which can also catch at the mouth of the sheath.

Trigger finger will usually affect the thumb, middle or ring finger. More than one finger can be affected and it may develop on both hands.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include stiffness and clicking when you move your fingers especially first thing in the morning, a bump ‘nodule’ or tenderness at the base of the affected finger in the palm.
Eventually your finger may get stuck in a bent position and suddenly ‘pop’.

Long term your finger may not fully straighten.

Who is susceptible?

Trigger finger is more common in women than men, however in most cases it occurs for no obvious reason. Certain medical conditions may increase your chances of suffering from the condition i.e. rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. However, contrary to popular opinion there is no evidence to suggest that it is work-related.

What does the surgery involve?

Surgery will involve a local anaesthetic being injected into the base of the finger or thumb affected, which will numb the area. A small incision will be made and the surgeon will release the triggering area. Dissolvable sutures will be used and a dressing applied for one week.

Occasionally a referral will be made to a specialist occupational therapist who will advise you on rehabilitation exercises.

For further information on any surgical procedures or
to book a consultation, please contact us at:

Fitzwilliam Clinic, 70-72 Lisburn Road, Belfast
Tel: 028 9032 3888