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Trigger Thumb and Trigger Finger in Children: Care Instructions

Inside view of the thumb, showing the bones and the tendon nodule that sticks so the thumb can't straighten

Overview

A trigger thumb is a thumb stuck in a bent position. It can also happen to a finger. It happens when the tendon that bends and straightens the thumb or finger can't slide smoothly under the ligaments that hold the tendon against the bones. In most cases, this is caused by a bump (nodule) that forms on the tendon. The cause of the bump isn't known. Some cases may be caused by problems with how the muscle develops.

Your child's bent thumb or finger may straighten out on its own.

A trigger thumb or finger can be painful. But it normally isn't a serious problem.

Your child may need surgery if the thumb or finger keeps locking in a bent position.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give your child his or her medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with the medicine.
  • Don't try to straighten or apply a splint to your child's thumb or finger.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child's thumb or finger locks in a bent position and won't straighten.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.