4 Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Trigger Finger

Apr 04, 2024
4 Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Trigger Finger
Trigger finger makes your finger or thumb get stuck in a bent position. It can be painful and limit your hand mobility, but the good news is that you don’t have to live with it — or turn to surgery. Find out how nonsurgical treatment can help.

Trigger finger is a condition that makes the tendons in your finger (or thumb) lock up when bent. It causes pain, stiffness, and difficulty straightening the affected digit — and it’s one of the most common causes of hand disability in the United States.

If you think you might have trigger finger, our team at A+ Athlete Sports Medicine can help. Adam Redlich, MD, and Adam Thompson, DO, specialize in diagnosing and treating hand and finger pain, and we’re ready to get you a personalized treatment plan. Here’s what you need to know about trigger finger, as well as four effective, nonsurgical treatments that can help relieve your pain.

Understanding trigger finger

The tendons in your fingers are surrounded by protective sheaths. These sheaths keep the tendons moving smoothly as you bend your fingers, but they can get irritated, inflamed, or thickened.

When this happens, the tendon can get trapped, making your finger catch or lock in a bent position. Anyone can get trigger finger, and it’s particularly common if your occupation or hobbies require making repetitive gripping motions, or if you have an underlying medical condition like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.

Nonsurgical treatment options for trigger finger

Trigger finger can seriously limit your hand function. The pain and limited mobility can disrupt your life and interfere with daily tasks — but the good news is that there are several nonsurgical treatment options available to alleviate symptoms and improve finger mobility.

1. Rest and activity modification

In mild cases, simply resting the affected finger and avoiding activities that exacerbate your symptoms can make a significant difference. We can help you identify the activities you do that involve repetitive gripping or grasping motions, so you can modify them and give your finger a chance to rest.

We might also recommend wearing a splint or brace to immobilize your finger for a period of time. Wearing a device like this can help reduce strain on the irritated tendon and promote healing.

2. Physical therapy

Physical therapy is another popular option to treat trigger finger, because it helps improve finger mobility and reduce inflammation. Your therapist develops a specific exercise routine to stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons in your fingers and hand. For many people with trigger finger, physical therapy complements other nonsurgical treatments.

3. Anti-inflammatory medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen or naproxen, can help reduce pain and inflammation from trigger finger. These medications work by inhibiting your body's inflammatory response to alleviate swelling and discomfort. Always be sure to use NSAIDs as directed.

4. Corticosteroid injections

In some cases, we might recommend corticosteroid injections. A single injection in the affected tendon can provide relief from pain and stiffness for several months, making it an effective nonsurgical treatment option for moderate to severe trigger finger.

When to consider surgery for trigger finger

Most people with trigger finger find that nonsurgical treatments like the ones above are effective to manage their symptoms. However, surgery may be necessary if your symptoms persist despite conservative measures.

Trigger finger surgery involves releasing the constricted part of the tendon sheath to help the tendon itself glide smoothly again. Recovery from trigger finger surgery is typically quick, with most patients experiencing significant improvement in symptoms shortly after the procedure.

Trigger finger can be painful and frustrating — but treatment can help you regain full hand function. Learn more about your options with a consultation at A+ Athlete Sports Medicine. Schedule online or call one of our offices in Neptune and Robbinsville, New Jersey, today.