Trigger Finger

A few weeks ago I woke up and noticed the middle finger on my left hand was bent as if I was bent playing an F# on the D string. I had to consciously straighten it out, and with that it clicked back open. I bent it again and it stayed in that position until I straightened it out again with that same clicking. By mid morning it was functioning normally again, but the finger remained a bit sore between the two knuckles in the middle of the finger. Over the next few days it subsided. The last few days it is back, and today I noticed it slightly in my right middle finger as well, but to a lesser degree.

I Googled my middle finger locks and found that what I am experiencing is Trigger Finger. Trigger finger is a condition in which one of the fingers gets stuck in a bent position. The finger may bend or straighten with a snap — like a trigger being pulled and released.

Trigger finger is also known as stenosing tenosynovitis (stuh-NO-sing ten-o-sin-o-VIE-tis). It occurs when inflammation narrows the space within the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. If trigger finger is severe, the finger may become locked in a bent position.

People whose work or hobbies require repetitive gripping actions are at higher risk of developing trigger finger. Constantly labeling jars for our home business, a lot of computer work, and playing the fiddle are three strikes against me when it comes to developing trigger finger. I also just found out in a Thanksgiving Day call to my brother that my mother suffered from trigger finger; it can run in families, as well.

I wasn’t planning to post about it until I read how common this condition is, especially in older folks and people who play the violin.

Here is a brief, but very good, video describing trigger finger.

Conservative noninvasive treatments include:

  • Rest: Avoid activities that require repetitive gripping, repeated grasping until symptoms improve.
  • A splint: A doctor can prescribe a splint to be worn at night to keep the affected finger in an extended position. The splint helps rest the tendon. A splint can also be purchased without a prescription.
  • Stretching exercises: Gentle exercises can help maintain mobility in the finger.

If these treatments fail, the next steps are more invasive and include:

  • Steroid injection: This may reduce inflammation and allow the tendon to glide freely again, but the results seldom last more than a year.
  • Percutaneous release: With the hand numbed, the Doctor inserts a sturdy needle into the tissue around the affected tendon and breaks apart the constriction.
  • Surgery: The most extreme treatment, the Doctor can cut open the constricted section of tendon sheath.

Wanting to get the upper hand (pun intended) on this, I ordered two splints, one to wear during the day that will allow flexibility and one to wear at night that will immobilize and relax the tendon.

I am also starting some gentle stretching exercises I found on 11 Trigger Finger Exercises to Try at Home. These are simple exercises that can be done anywhere. Many of these exercises are ones I have already posted about in several earlier posts about hand problems (see Overcoming Obstacles), but I will admit, I do get lax in keeping up these routines. Perhaps avoiding trigger finger is just another reason to get back into my hand flexibility routine.

  14 comments for “Trigger Finger

  1. wildflower
    December 20, 2019 at 4:49 am

    So Jim, is the cortisone shot helping any?

    • MoonShadows
      December 20, 2019 at 6:48 am


      Yes! The finger feels about 75% better, and I am practicing again, but I am not pushing it. I play for about 10 minutes, and if it feels OK, another 10 minutes later in the day. I may try to increase that today. I am also massaging the hand under hot water when I first get up which seems to help, too.

  2. MoonShadows
    December 17, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Thanks, Rick. In the past when I got a shot for tendonitis in my elbow a few times, it helped, but when I had one for plantar fasciitis, it didn’t do much at all. I’ll know in a day or two. I’m dying to get back to practicing my fiddle. I had a few really good practices just before this started and felt like I was making progress; just hope I didn’t lose that.

  3. Rick M
    December 17, 2019 at 11:49 am

    I hope the cortisone gives you some relief. I had them done in my thumb/wrist joints several times and did get some relief. Bearing in mind that everyone is different, in my case there were “diminishing returns” in that the first one helped a lot for about 3 months. Each consecutive one helped less and the effects were shorter.

  4. MoonShadows
    December 17, 2019 at 10:22 am

    I had to send out a lot of Christmas orders the past few days, so this morning my finger was worse. I just got back from my appointment with the orthopedist. He gave me a cortisone shot and told me it will take a few days to see if it helps. He changed the splint he wants me to wear at night, and told me to massage the area and keep it warm particularly the first few hours of the morning. I have to go back and see him in two weeks.

  5. MoonShadows
    December 14, 2019 at 10:32 am

    No. It actually hurts a bit more today, but I forgot to wear my splint when I went to bed last night. I have an appointment with the Orthopedist on Tuesday morning.

  6. Pops
    December 14, 2019 at 9:59 am

    Any relief yet, Jim? I know mine finally needed a cortisone shot.

  7. wildflower
    December 9, 2019 at 6:17 am

    Hope it heals for you, Jim. I know from your blog posts your hands are not in the greatest shape in the world already with your arthritis. This just adds to the problem. I know I would find it very frustrating if I couldn’t practice because of pain.

    • December 9, 2019 at 7:10 am

      Thanks a lot, Norma. I didn’t try to practice at all yesterday. This morning, I tried again. I got through two waltzes, but the pain in the finger is telling me it needs more rest. It is a little disheartening, since I really, really feel like practicing. 🙁 

  8. Pops
    December 7, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Ouch, that can hurt. I had it a few years back. After wearing a splint for a while, I finally got a cortisone shot. Hasn’t bothered me since. I can see how that would put a real dent in your practice. Hope it doesn’t last long for you.

    • MoonShadows
      December 7, 2019 at 12:51 pm


      Thanks. I haven’t practiced in a few days. I tried today but stopped after a few minutes. It hurts to press a string down with that finger, and I figure I should try not to aggravate it anymore than it is already.

  9. MoonShadows
    December 5, 2019 at 4:15 am

    Yesterday I woke up and the finger was worse! But, the day before I had to do a lot of jar labeling for my business which involves a lot of repetitive movement. Still wearing the splints, but I wasn’t able to practice yesterday, nor do I think I will be able to practice today. It’s sore and stiff. I cancelled my lesson for Saturday since I don’t know how I’ll be then.

  10. December 2, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    Wow. Who knew? I didn’t. Hope this clears up for you with the less invasive measures you are taking.

    • December 3, 2019 at 5:34 am

      Thanks, Sue. It’s eased off the past few days, and I can practice. The splints arrived in the mail yesterday, so I’ve started wearing them. Hopefully, they will help. I did find out from my brother that my mother suffered from trigger finger also. I read it can run in families.

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