Straight To The Point Blog

Trigger Finger: Symptoms and Treatment

October 12th, 2020
Trigger finger is a painful, locking injury that rock climbers tend to develop

Trigger finger, or stenosing tenosynovitis, is an injury in which a finger becomes painfully locked in a crooked position. This condition is common among rock climbers and individuals who perform a lot of manual labor.

Anatomy of the finger

The bones of the finger are attached to the forearm muscles with flexor tendons. Each flexor tendon goes through the tendon sheath, a tunnel in the palm and fingers. There are bands of tendons along the tendon sheath known as pulleys, which hold the flexor tendons to the finger bones. The tendons move through these pulleys when the fingers move. As a result of overuse, the tendon becomes very thick and may form a nodule, which can be caught as the tendon moves through the pulley. This is what causes trigger finger.


In addition to pain and locking as you bend your finger, there may be a lump at the base of the finger on the palm side. You may also experience worsening stiffness after a period of non-movement, particularly in the mornings after a night of sleep. In some situations, the finger may be permanently locked.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Trigger Finger

There are plenty of non-surgical ways to treat trigger finger. Rest and over-the-counter pain medication can sometimes be enough to allow the issue to heal. Some stretching exercise and physical therapy may also improve range of motion. Your doctor may also recommend splinting the finger at night to keep it straight.

If those treatments don’t resolve the pain, your doctor may use a steroid injection to reduce inflammation. They may also try a procedure using ultrasound and a tool called a Nokor needle. This is a minimally invasive, incision-free procedure that does not require anesthesia. Using ultrasound allows the doctor to view whether there is, in fact, locking of the pulley. They can then release the pulley to unlock the finger with the Nokor needle while making sure not to injure the tendon under ultrasound.

If you think you might suffer from trigger finger, call Dr. Gruner at Point Performance in Bethesda, Maryland. He has worked with many rock climbers to treat this particular injury. He can evaluate your condition and see what treatment would help reduce pain and restore your fingers.

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