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Trigger Digit

Trigger digit is a common repetitive strain injury. If you experience symptoms that may be indicative of trigger digit, please consult your medical doctor for a diagnosis.

Understanding Trigger Digit

Trigger digit is a common hand condition where there is symptomatic locking or clicking of the fingers or thumb. As you bend your digit, a tendon slides through a tunnel (tendon sheath). Triggering happens when this tunnel becomes thickened and narrowed, or when the tendon is swollen and cannot slide through its tunnel smoothly. This may cause pain, triggering, or actual locking of the digit.

trigger digit.png 

Potential Causes

  • Compressive forces on palm/base of finger or thumb.

  • Repetitive or prolonged forceful gripping.

  • More common in people who have rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and diabetes.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain / discomfort / thickening / swelling at the base of the affected digit.

  • Triggering or locking of the affected digit. May be worse in the morning.

Occupational (Hand) Therapy

  • REST your affected digit! Refrain from repetitive or forceful gripping.

  • Wear prescribed splint as instructed.

  • Modify the way you do your daily activities.

  • Perform finger exercises as instructed.

  • Perform heat therapy and/or massage as instructed.

  • Learn self-management strategies to prevent recurrence.

 Your compliance is essential for therapy to be effective!

Other Medical Treatment

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed by the doctor.

  • The doctor may offer a corticosteroid injection to reduce the inflammation.

Surgical Treatment

The doctor may recommend surgery if there is little improvement from conservative treatment.  The goal of the surgery is to widen the constricting tunnel so that the tendon can glide freely again.

After surgery, do note the following:

  • Keep your wound clean and dry.  Go for wound dressing as recommended.

  • If you have stitches, they are usually removed 10-14 days after your surgery.

  • Manage your scar as recommended when your stitches are removed.

  • Manage your pain and swelling as recommended when necessary.

  • Perform hand exercises as recommended.

  • Modify the way you do your daily activities.

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