Is it Possible to Heal Trigger Finger Without Surgery?

Is it Possible to Heal Trigger Finger Without Surgery?

Posted on 05/19/2018

Trigger finger is a fairly common but painful condition that is characterized by one or more fingers that are stuck in a ‘bent’ position and then suddenly pop out straight in the trigger action from which it gets its name. Although it may seem comedic at first, trigger finger is not only painful, but also highly debilitating for the patient who will find their ability to use their hands properly compromised. This means that they may struggle to do their job or take part in activities that they enjoy. Finding an effective treatment is essential if the patient is to be able to live life to the full.

What causes trigger finger?

To understand what causes trigger finger, you must first understand the physiology of what happens to a patient who has the condition:

In order to bend or straighten a finger, the tendon serving it must be able to move freely within the sheath that contains it. However, if there is a problem with either the tendon or sheath, the tendon may not be able to move as it should and may bunch up to form a nodule. This nodule can make bending the finger difficult. However, if a bend is achieved, the nodule may then get caught in the sheath when it is time to straighten it again. The patient may then experience a painful ‘click’ as the nodule manages to release and the tendon slides back through the sheath.

It is not known exactly what causes trigger finger to develop, but it is more commonly seen in women over the age of 40. You may also be at greater risk of trigger finger if you suffer from medical conditions such as arthritis and diabetes, or another hand-related condition called Dupuytren’s contracture.

Non-surgical treatment for trigger finger

Although there are occasions whereby trigger finger resolves of its own accord, if you have been diagnosed with the condition, seeking treatment should be a priority as there is a small risk that without it, the affected finger could become permanently bent.

There are several non-surgical options that our hand-specialist will almost certainly recommend before considering surgery, and many of these have proven to be very successful for a vast number of patients. Most focus on reducing the swelling and irritation affecting the sheath and tendon. These include:

Resting the affected finger. Although you cannot avoid using your hands completely, you may be able to modify your usual activities so that you can avoid overusing the affected finger.

Performing finger exercises. There are certain exercises that you can do that will help your affected finger to heal effectively. Our specialist hand doctor or a physical therapist will be able to show you which exercises you should do, and which you should avoid as they could exacerbate your condition.

Wear a splint. It may be a little awkward and uncomfortable at first, but splinting the finger will straighten out the joint and allow the tendon to heal.

Take pain medication. You don’t need to suffer the discomfort of trigger finger while it heals. Over-the-counter pain medications, and in particular non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) can be helpful in combatting the painfulness of this condition.

Steroid injections. If regular pain medications aren’t providing enough relief, our doctor may be able to arrange for you to have steroid injections. These are much stronger and more successful in treating pain and inflammation, meaning that your tendon can be splinted and given time to heal.


Although it is possible to heal trigger finger without surgery, there is unfortunately no guarantee that these methods will work for you. We strongly recommend that you contact our specialist hand doctor who can work with you to find the treatment that is likely to be most effective for you and your personal circumstances. Contact us to know more.


Please contact us today to schedule an appointment or get more information about our hand and upper extremity surgical services.