Harris Gellman, MD Consulting Surgeon, Broward Hand Center; Voluntary Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Plastic Surgery, Departments of Orthopedic Surgery and Surgery, University of Miami, Leonard M Miller School of Medicine; Clinical Professor of Surgery, Nova Southeastern School of Medicine
Harris Gellman, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Medical Acupuncture , American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons , American Orthopaedic Association , American Society for Surgery of the Hand , Arkansas Medical Society , Florida Medical Association , Florida Orthopaedic Society
Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.
Trigger finger/thumb occurs when the pulley at the base of the finger becomes too thick and constricting around the tendon, making it hard for the tendon to move freely through the pulley. Sometimes the tendon develops a nodule (knot) or swelling of its lining. Because of the increased resistance to the gliding of the tendon through the pulley, one may feel pain, popping, or a catching feeling in the finger or thumb. When the tendon catches, it produces irritation and more swelling of the pulley. This causes a vicious cycle of triggering and thickening of the pulley. Sometimes the finger becomes stuck or locked, and is hard to straighten or bend. Causes for this condition are not always clear. Some trigger fingers are associated with medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and diabetes.
Trigger finger (also called stenosing tenosynovitis) occurs when inflammation builds up within a tendon of a finger and causes it to involuntarily flex.  If the condition is severe, the finger gets stuck in a bent position and sometimes makes a snapping sound when forcibly straightened -- sort of like cocking the trigger of a gun, which explains the name. People whose job requires repetitive gripping are at higher risk of developing trigger finger, as are those with arthritis or diabetes. The treatment varies depending on severity and cause, which is why an accurate diagnosis is important.