What are the signs and symptoms of trigger finger (TF)?

Updated: Apr 26, 2021
  • Author: Satishchandra Kale, MD, MBBS, MBA, MCh(Orth), FRCS(Edin), FRCS(Tr&Orth); Chief Editor: Harris Gellman, MD  more...
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Signs and symptoms of TF are as follows:

  • Locking or catching during active flexion-extension activity (passive manipulation may be needed to extend the digit in the later stages)
  • Stiff digit, especially in long-standing or neglected cases
  • Pain over the distal palm
  • Pain radiating along the digit
  • Triggering on active or passive extension by the patient
  • Palpable snapping sensation or crepitus over the A1 pulley
  • Tenderness over the A1 pulley
  • Palpable nodule in the line of the flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS), just distal to the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint in the palm
  • Fixed-flexion deformity in late presentations, especially in the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint
  • Evidence of associated conditions (eg, rheumatoid arthritis [RA], gout)
  • Early signs of triggering in other digits (may be bilateral)

Children with trigger thumb rarely complain of pain. They usually are brought in for evaluation when aged 1-4 years, when the parent first notices a flexed posture of the thumb’s interphalangeal (IP) joint. These children often demonstrate bilateral fixed flexion contractures of the thumb by the time they present to the physician. [4] By the time the child presents to the clinic, surgical treatment is already indicated in most instances.

See Clinical Presentation for more detail.

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