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Trigger Finger: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

A trigger finger is a finger stuck in a bent position. The bent finger usually straightens out on its own. A trigger finger can be painful, but it normally is not a serious problem.

Trigger fingers seem to occur more in some groups of people. These include people who have diabetes or arthritis or who have injured their hands in the past. This problem also occurs in musicians and people who grip tools often.

Rest, exercises, and other things you can do at home may help your trigger finger relax so that it can bend as it should.

You may get a corticosteroid shot. This can reduce swelling and pain. Your doctor may put a splint on your finger. This will give your finger some rest and avoid irritating the joint. 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.
  • If your finger is swollen, put ice or a cold pack on your finger for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Prop up your hand on a pillow when you ice it or anytime you sit or lie down during the next 3 days. Try to keep it above the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • 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

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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.