Trigger finger is a condition in which a finger or thumb becomes temporarily “stuck” in a bent position due to inflammation in the tendon sheaths. The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation in the tendon and sheath to allow unimpeded tendon movement.
Specific treatments for trigger finger are described below. The best course of treatment for patients depends on the severity of trigger finger and the number of fingers affected.
Nonsurgical Treatments for Trigger Finger
In almost all cases, nonsurgical treatment is sufficient to bring relief from symptoms. Nonsurgical treatment options for trigger finger include the following:
- A splint that immobilizes the affected finger for a few weeks is often sufficient to resolve trigger finger, particularly in milder cases. Those who experience worse symptoms in the morning may benefit from night splinting.
- Ice therapy for the affected finger can decrease inflammation and dull pain. An ice or cold pack can be applied for 5 to 10 minutes every few hours.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be able to treat the underlying inflammation that causes trigger finger. NSAIDs increase the risks of serious cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and kidney problems, so they usually not recommended as a long-term treatment.
- A cortisone injection is a common treatment that reduces inflammation at the affected tendon. A cortisone injection is usually successful if the patient does not have diabetes or an inflammatory condition. However, some people who get symptom relief with a cortisone injection and may experience a return of symptoms within 6 months.1
When nonsurgical treatments are not appropriate or fail to relieve symptoms, a doctor may recommend an in-office procedure called percutaneous release or surgery. Both procedures release the constricting tendon sheath tissue.
It should be noted that a patient does not necessarily have to have a cortisone injection in order to undergo a percutaneous release or surgery.