Skip to Main Content

  • Trigger digit
  • Locked finger
  • Stenosing tenosynovitis

  • 727.03 Trigger finger (acquired)

  • M65.30 Trigger finger, unspecified finger


  • Painful snapping or catching/locking of finger or thumb
  • Inflammation of the fluid-filled sheath (tenosynovitis) surrounding the flexor tendons of the phalanges
  • Painful nodule at the distal flexion crease
  • Inflammation causes interference with gliding of tendon at the location of the A1 pulleys

Essentials of Diagnosis

  • Thickening of sheath or tendon leads to constriction of the sliding tendon, and nodules can develop.
  • Crepitus and nodules may be palpable at location of A1 pulley.
  • Cause is typically non-specific overuse.
  • Pain with digit motion precedes triggering or locking sensations

General Considerations

  • Pain may precede symptoms of triggering.
  • Mechanical symptoms exacerbate condition, leading to increased pain and decreased motion of the digit.
  • Can be managed surgically or non-surgically depending upon signs and symptom severity, response to conservative treatment, and orthopedic physician recommendations.


  • Unknown etiology, idiopathic
  • Middle-aged women
  • Increased incidence with diabetic population, young children, and menopausal women.
  • Associated in population with rheumatic disease/changes in the hand.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain in palmar metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint region with digit motion, especially flexion
  • Nodule along the A1 pulley
  • Crepitus
  • Palpable tenderness and possible swelling over palmar MCP joint
  • Palpable crepitus over the palmar MCP joint
  • Catching, locking, triggering with flexion of the digit

Functional Implications

  • Difficulty and or pain with opening and closing hand in preparation for grasping or reaching
  • Difficulty and/or pain with grasping dishes, utensils, or drinking cups due to pain and weakness
  • Difficulty and/or pain with grasping and turning steering wheel
  • Difficulty and/or pain with turning doorknob

Possible Contributing Causes

  • Rheumatoid arthritis, or other rheumatic or connective tissue disorders
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Infection: M. Kansasii
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Gout
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Tuberculosis
  • De Quervain’s stenosing tenosynovitis
  • Overuse activity of the hand and fingers

Differential Diagnosis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ganglion of tendon sheath
  • Dupuytren disease
  • Loose body in the MCP joint
  • Subluxation of the extensor digitorum communis
  • Diabetes mellitus


  • No indication. Radiographs can be taken to rule out fracture.

Diagnostic Procedures

  • Start with a full fist, and then ask patient to open the hand and extend the fingers.


  • NSAIDs
  • Corticosteroid injection into flexor sheath

Medical Procedures

  • Surgical release possible after failed conservative care

  • Radiologist for imaging, x-ray ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.