What is a “trigger” finger?

Flexor tendons are surrounded by a sheath that allows the tendons to glide easily over joints, bones and other tendons. Tendons are held in position by a series of fibrous bands, known as pulleys. These pulley’s lie over the top of the tendon sheath and attach to bone.  

When the finger is unable to glide because of a nodule that catches at the site of the first pulley. The finger may lock or suddenly trigger, extending with a snap.  

Trigger finger most commonly occurring in middle aged women, and more commonly in people with Rheumatoid arthritis, Diabetes Mellitus, Dupuytren’s disease and repetitive trauma. Trigger finger can often co-exist with Carpal Tunnel syndrome.  

Stages of triggering

A painful palpable nodule
The PIPJ locks into flexion and is unlocked with active PIPJ extension
The PIPJ locks into flexion and is unlocked with passive PIPJ extension
The PIPJ remains locked in a flexed position


  1. Heat can be applied for general pain and ice can be used for general inflammation 
  1. Your therapist can provide you with a custom thermoplastic splint to help prevent your finger from triggering.  
  1. Steroid injection/iontophoresis  
  1. Failing the above, a referral can be made for a surgical consult to release the pulley providing resistance to the tendon.