I Think I Have a Trigger Thumb. What Do I Do About It?

Trigger Thumb

Trigger Thumb is inflammation of the tendon(s) that flex or bend your thumb. The tendons act as cords that pull your fingers down into a fist and then relax as you straighten the fingers. Think of the tendon as a line on a fishing rod and the pulleys as the eyelets that keep the line in contact with the rod as it bends and straightens. A knot in the line may make the line catch as it is pulled through the eyelet. If the knot keeps getting larger or the pulley gets tighter, eventually it will be too large to slide back in the other direction and the line will be stuck. That is what happens to the tendons. They simply get too large to move back and forth through the pulleys.

The causes of trigger thumb are rheumatoid arthritis, gout, diabetes or an injury to the base of your thumb. More often than not, the cause is unknown.

Symptoms of Trigger Thumb

  • A “popping” pain when you bend or straighten the end of your thumb
  • Your thumb sticks in a bent position and in severe cases has to be pulled straight
  • You feel tenderness when you press on the base of your thumb

Treatment Options
Trigger Thumb is an inflammatory condition. The earlier treatment is started, the better chance that the triggering can be relieved.

Icing and anti-inflammatory medicines are important and should be started as soon as possible.  If your problem is severe and has progressed to the point where your thumb locks in a bent position, a steroid injection may be needed to reduce the inflammation. If your problem persists, surgery may be recommended to restore motion.

With Trigger Thumb, it’s very important to prevent the tendon from moving to the point where it snaps or clicks. Using a splint or brace can help limit motion and allow your thumb to rest. This can be done with a finger splint, such as an Oval-8 Finger Splint. 

It is important to wear your splint until your symptoms are completely gone. Continuing to use a splint at night after an injection or surgery can also be very helpful to prevent clenching your thumb into a fist at night.

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Our blogs are presented for informational purposes only and are not to be considered medical advice. Because your condition is unique to you, it is recommended that you consult with your health care provider before attempting any medical or therapeutic intervention. We are happy to answer questions or comments pertaining to any products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.

2 Responses to I Think I Have a Trigger Thumb. What Do I Do About It?

  1. suggie Eddleman says:

    Hi, I have been having pain in my right thumb so much that I try not to use it. It hurTs from the middle joint down to my wrist. When I try to move it ,it will pop at the middle joint and the pain is bad.would a split help ?

    • Gwolfe says:

      I am very sorry to hear you are having pain in your thumb. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals and therefore are not able to provide you with a diagnosis. Your best course of action is to consult with your healthcare professional or a specialist who can diagnose your thumb problem and give you recommendations for treatment.

      Depending on your diagnosis, a splint may be helpful. Please know that while choosing an appropriate splint to rest your thumb and taking an anti-inflammatory drug may be helpful to relieve your symptoms, it is important to be properly treated by your healthcare provider to prevent worsening of your condition.