Trigger digits: diagnosis and treatment

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. Jul-Aug 2001;9(4):246-52. doi: 10.5435/00124635-200107000-00004.


Stenosing tenosynovitis of the thumb and fingers is a very common problem seen by the primary-care physician, the orthopaedic surgeon, and the hand surgeon. Primary stenosing tenosynovitis is usually idiopathic and occurs more frequently in middle-aged women than in men, but can be seen even in infancy. Secondary stenosing tenosynovitis of the digits can occur in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, gout, and other disease entities that cause connective tissue disorders. The diagnosis of triggering digits is generally not subtle and can be made on the basis of an adequate clinical examination. Classification according to the type of tenosynovitis and the time from onset of symptoms may be prognostically significant and may also affect the treatment outcome. As many as 85% of triggering fingers and thumbs can be treated successfully with corticosteroid injections and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Surgical release is generally indicated when nonoperative treatment fails. Percutaneous A1 pulley release can now be performed safely as an office procedure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Constriction, Pathologic / classification
  • Constriction, Pathologic / diagnosis
  • Constriction, Pathologic / therapy
  • Decompression, Surgical / adverse effects
  • Decompression, Surgical / methods
  • Female
  • Finger Joint / physiopathology*
  • Finger Joint / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular / adverse effects
  • Injections, Intra-Articular / methods
  • Male
  • Tenosynovitis / diagnosis*
  • Tenosynovitis / physiopathology
  • Tenosynovitis / therapy*
  • Thumb / physiopathology
  • Thumb / surgery


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones