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A trigger finger (or thumb) occurs when a flexor tendon becomes swollen and inflamed as it passes through the tendon sheath. The swollen tendon can bunch as it moves through the sheath, becoming stuck on thickenings in the sheath known as pulleys. This causes the finger to become stuck in a bent position. As the swollen, bunched tendon releases, the finger snaps back into a straight position. This can be painful and inconvenient.


Sometimes symptoms will settle with conservative measures such as rest or NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). A steroid injection into the flexor sheath at the base of the finger will often reduce swelling and inflammation leading to a resolution of symptoms.


If the symptoms do not settle with such treatment, then a trigger release can be undertaken. This is usually undertaken under local anaesthetic as a day case procedure. An incision is made in the palm at the base of the affected finger or thumb and a portion of the tendon sheath is released to allow the tendon to glide more freely.

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