by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(Stenosing Tenosynovitis; Volar Flexor Tenosynovitis)


Trigger finger is when a finger or thumb is locked in a bent position. It happens from swelling of the sheath that encloses the tendons of the thumb and fingers. This makes it hard for the tendon to move.

Trigger Finger
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This problem is caused by swelling of the sheath that encloses the tendons of the thumb and fingers. This makes it hard for the tendons to move. The exact cause of the swelling is not always known.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in women, and in people aged 60 years and older. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Overuse of the hand from repetitive motions
  • Inflammatory problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Chronic health problems, such as renal insufficiency, diabetes, and thyroid disease


Problems may be:

  • Finger or thumb stuck in bent position
  • Finger, thumb, or hand pain
  • Problems with grip strength
  • Clicking, catching, or locking when straightening the finger or thumb
  • Finger or thumb stiffness
  • Swelling or a lump in the palm


You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the hand. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. Some people may need to see a doctor who treats hands.


It will take several weeks for most people to heal. The goals of treatment are to ease pain and swelling. This may include:

  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling
  • A brace or splint to support the finger or thumb
  • Exercises to help with flexibility


Some people may need surgery when other methods do not help. A small incision will be made in the hand. The tendon will be released from the locked position.


There are no known guidelines to prevent this problem.


Hand Care—American Society for Surgery of the Hand 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 


The Arthritis Society 

HealthLink BC 


Adams JE, Habbu R. Tendinopathies of the Hand and Wrist. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2015 Dec;23(12):741-750.

Trigger finger. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: Updated March 2018. Accessed December 6, 2019.

Trigger finger (stenosing tenosynovitis) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  . Updated July 26, 2019. Accessed December 6, 2019.

Revision Information