Conservative management of trigger finger: A systematic review

J Hand Ther. 2019 Apr-Jun;32(2):212-221. doi: 10.1016/j.jht.2017.10.016. Epub 2017 Dec 28.


Study design: Systematic review INTRODUCTION: Trigger finger (TF) is a common condition in the hand. The primary purpose of this systematic review was to evaluate the current evidence to determine the efficacy of orthotic management of TF. A secondary purpose was to identify the characteristics of the orthotic management. The tertiary purpose of this study was to ascertain if the studies used a patient-reported outcome to assess gains from the patient's perspective.

Methods: All studies including randomized controlled trials, prospective, and retrospective cohort studies were included in this review due to limited high-level evidence.

Results: Four authors demonstrated moderate to large effect sizes ranging from 0.49 to 1.99 for pain reduction after wearing an orthotic device. Two authors demonstrated a change in the stages of stenosing tenosynovitis scale scores showing a clinically important change with a large effect size ranging from 0.97 to 1.63. Seven authors immobilized a single joint of the affected digit using a variety of orthoses.

Conclusion: All authors reported similar results regardless of the joint immobilized; therefore for orthotic management of the TF, we recommend a sole joint be immobilized for 6-10 weeks. In assessing TF, most authors focused on body structures and functions including pain and triggering symptoms, 2 authors used a validated functional outcome measure. In the future therapists should use a validated patient report outcome to assess patient function that is sensitive to change in patients with TF. Furthermore, more randomized controlled trials are needed.

Keywords: Conservative treatment; Flexor tenosynovitis; Orthosis; Splinting; Stenosing tenosynovitis; Trigger finger.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Conservative Treatment*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Humans
  • Orthotic Devices*
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Trigger Finger Disorder / therapy*
  • Visual Analog Scale