I Think I Have a Trigger Thumb – What Can I Do About It?

oval-8 finger splint for mallet finger or mallet thumb

It’s important to understand the causes and symptoms of trigger thumb, as well as the treatment options. Treating trigger thumb earlier, rather than later gives you a better chance for the triggering to be relieved.

What is 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’s what happens to the tendons. They simply get too large to move back and forth through the pulleys.

Causes and Symptoms of Trigger Thumb

Possible 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 include:

  • 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
Check out the video  How To Treat Trigger Thumb with an Oval-8 Splint – View Video

Treatment Options for Trigger Thumb

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.  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.

Oval-8 finger splint for trigger thumb
Oval-8 Finger Splints

It’s 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.

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.

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oval-8 finger splints for trigger thumb
Oval-8 Finger Splints

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 How to Treat Trigger Thumb with an Oval-8 Finger Splint

Our blogs are educational in nature and are not intended as a substitute for 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 treatments. We are always happy to answer questions about products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.


17 comments on “I Think I Have a Trigger Thumb – What Can I Do About It?

  1. Hi there,

    I had a motor bike accident and ripped my wrist on the handle bars on the way to the ground. Since then the base of my thumb on my hands has caused a lot of pain and angst. Doctor keeps saying it is arthritis as xray and ultra sound do not show any damages but he says shows arthritis. I am 56 however have always been extremely fit and active and hands whilst I type ever day never caused any issues.
    I did however find out as a child I had a trigger finger issue, so am wondering if this is my issue or something like carpal tunnel as I get numbness when sleeping and wake with this and aching at times. Whilst on 6 weeks leave my hands gave me no grief at all so I am not convinced it is arthritis at all……
    would appreciate your advice.
    thanks – Kaz

    1. Hi Kaz,
      I am very sorry to hear about your accident and the pain at the base of your thumb. Please know that while we can provide information on certain health conditions, we are not medical professionals and are unable to give medical advice. With that said, in many cases wearing a thumb splint or brace can help treat your pain. You may want to download our ebook to learn about the different thumb conditions and which thumb brace can help. Thumb Pain Ebook I hope you find relief soon.

    2. Hi there had carpel tunnel operations in both hands and now my thumb is in agony when bending it it clicks and is painful.carpel tunnel is numbness burning and tginling pain dat can bring u to tears hope u get it sorted hun

  2. I recently had carpal tunnel surgery 3 months ago , would that have anything to do with causing trigger finger on my left thumb , it seems to only click when I get up in the morning for a while , then goes away . Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Hi Nicholas,
      Trigger finger or trigger thumb happens when the tendons in your finger or thumb become inflamed. It is very common for this problem to occur during the night. The Oval-8 Finger Splint can help limit your finger motion, giving your finger a chance to rest and heal. If your finger tends to be stuck in a bent position at night, you may consider wearing it during sleep. It is important to wear the splint until the triggering stops completely when the splint is removed. If you wear the splint consistently and the triggering does not improve after 2 to 3 weeks of wear, please consider discussing your problem with your healthcare provider or a Hand Surgery specialist as soon as possible. I hope this helps answer your questions.

    1. Hi Consuelo,
      To determine what size Oval-8 you’ll need, use a flexible measuring tape to measure around the joint of the affected finger. You may also visit your local jeweler and ask to have a ring sizer to measure the affected finger joint. If you don’t have a measuring tape – the printable sizing guide can be used to measure your finger. For more information on Oval-8 Sizing please refer to our Oval-8 Guide https://www.ohmyarthritis.com/Learn/E-Book-Oval-8-Finger-Splint-Guide/. The Guide includes more detailed information about Oval-8’s, including the sizing chart.

      Since swelling or temperature changes can affect your finger size, choosing only one size does not always guarantee that size will be 100% correct. We suggest choosing an Oval-8 Graduated Set of 3 sizes to get the right fit. This will give you the extra splints needed for swelling and other changes in your finger size. Please contact our customer service team at service@ohmyarthritis.com if we can be of further assistance.

  3. Hi
    I will get the oval 8 but wha is your best recommendation for pain, I rub ultra tiger balm, very good I got ArcticBlast, very spensive not good! I take turmeric too. Now I’m thinking in Starr with collagen/ gelatin and glucosamine
    What about soaking the thumb in epsom salt
    Any real good inflammation help??


  5. One day after carrying gas cans, I noticed my thumb was sore. It has clicked every time I bent it ever since. It’s been about 4 months now and I haven’t thought about going to the doctor for it but it is getting very irritating for me now!

    1. Hi Alyssa,
      I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing problems with 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 diagnosis your thumb problem. It’s best to consult with your healthcare provider who can examine your thumb and give you recommendations for treatment.

      With that said it sounds as you may be experiencing “Trigger Thumb”. You can find additional information about Trigger Thumb on our website at http://www.ohmyarthritis.com/Learn/About-Health-Conditions/Trigger-Finger.html along with information about the Oval-8 Finger Splint. The Oval-8 Finger Splint is a light weight, comfortable splint that can help stop triggering without messy tape or straps. I hope you find relief soon.

  6. 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 ?

    1. 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.

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