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HealthInfo West Coast-Te Tai Poutini

Living with trigger finger

What can I do about trigger finger?

Rest (immobilisation)

Simply resting your hand for four to six weeks is often enough. This lets any inflammation settle and may solve the problem without any other treatment. We try this first, as it works for most people.

Using a simple support that keeps your finger straight at night can help. You can get a resting splint from a physiotherapist.

You can take paracetamol (Panadol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS (such as ibuprofen/Nurofen) for pain, if they are safe for you.

To reduce the chance of it coming back, try using padded gloves if you regularly use tools that press against the palm of your hand.

Who can help?

General practice team

If you need to find a GP, you can search on Healthpages.

Your GP may be able to give you a steroid injection into the tendon sheath, which is the next treatment if rest doesn't work. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medicines that reduce swelling. This treatment works in about 90% of cases. You might need a second injection if the first one doesn't work.

Steroid injections for trigger finger work best if you have them within three months of first noticing any symptoms.

After your injection you can use your hand for light activities while you slowly return to your usual activities. You are better to protect your finger for a few weeks by avoiding repetitive gripping, grasping, palm pressure and vibration.

If your GP is not experienced at giving steroid injections, they may refer you to a GP colleague who is.

Physiotherapist or hand therapist

You may wish to pay to see a private hand therapist or physiotherapist in Christchurch. Private physiotherapists are also available in Nelson, and Wanaka. They can help with treatments for trigger finger, including exercises, finger splints and occupational advice.

Plastic surgeon or orthopaedic surgeon

Few people need surgery for trigger finger, as steroid injections are very effective. But if you have had two steroid injections and still can't straighten your finger, with or without using your other hand, surgery may be an option. Your GP can refer you to a plastic surgeon or orthopaedic surgeon.

Surgery aims to release the tendon sheath so the tendon can glide more easily. It is done under a local anaesthetic injection that numbs the area while you are still awake.

You may choose to pay to see a private plastic surgeon, a private orthopaedic surgeon.

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Information provided by the Canterbury DHB. Adapted by the West Coast DHB. Page created September 2015.

See also:

Preparing for your doctor's visit


Page reference: 208024

Review key: HITRF-13041