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Trigger Finger: Care Instructions

Overview

A trigger finger is a finger stuck in a bent position. 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, it's caused by a bump (nodule) that forms on the tendon. The bent finger usually straightens out on its own.

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

Trigger fingers seem to occur more in some groups of people. These groups include:

  • People who have diabetes or arthritis.
  • People who have injured their hands in the past.
  • Musicians.
  • People who grip tools often.

Rest and exercises may help your trigger finger relax so that it can bend.

You may get a corticosteroid shot. This can reduce swelling and pain. Your doctor may put a splint on your finger. It will give your finger some rest. You may need surgery if the finger keeps locking in a bent position.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your doctor put a splint on your finger, wear the splint as directed. Do not remove it until your doctor says you can.
  • You may need to change your activities to avoid movements that irritate the finger.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • If your doctor recommends exercises, do them as directed.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your finger locks in a bent position and will not straighten.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.