Emergency icon Important Updates
provider using a microscope to see patient's fingers

Trigger Finger

Your finger shouldn’t click. It shouldn’t pop. And it definitely shouldn’t be stuck in a bent position.

If one (or several) of your fingers, or your thumb, does any of these things, you might have something called trigger finger or trigger thumb (stenosing tenosynovitis). It’s not serious, but it sure can hurt. And it can make simple things like typing on your computer, playing a musical instrument — or even just gripping the handle on a cup of tea —tougher than they should be.

Cleveland Clinic offers several minimally invasive ways to treat trigger finger or thumb. Our hand specialists, surgeons and therapists can help get rid of the frustrating pain, locking, popping and clicking for good.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Trigger Finger Care?

trusted experts icon

Trusted experts:

Our team members specialize in hand conditions and have many years of experience. Our surgeons are fellowship-trained and board-certified and have additional qualifications in hand surgery. Our occupational therapists have extra training and certification in hand therapy.

minimally invasive options icon

Minimally invasive options:

We offer a variety of treatments that don’t require surgery — like splinting, medications and injections. We also provide a quick, minimally invasive procedure called trigger finger release, which can resolve the condition.

personalized care icon

Personalized care:

The treatment you choose is a personal decision. We listen carefully to your goals before we recommend next steps. Meet our team.

collaborative care icon

Collaborative care:

Some cases of trigger finger are related to other health conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes. Your healthcare provider will work with Cleveland Clinic experts in those specialties to manage these conditions, which can help prevent trigger finger flare-ups.

national recognition icon

National recognition:

Cleveland Clinic is a trusted healthcare leader. We're recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for our expertise and care.

Virtual Consultation icon

Virtual visits:

Want to get care without leaving home? We offer both in-person and virtual visits. This is a convenient and secure way to talk with your provider from your smartphone, tablet or computer.

Diagnosing Trigger Finger at Cleveland Clinic

Our team will ask you about your symptoms and what activities make them worse. We’ll also examine your hand to check for pain, stiffness, numbness, tingling, clicking, popping, locking, flexibility and to see how strong your grip is. We might also take a look at your wrist to make sure you don’t have another condition that could be causing your trigger finger or thumb.

Often, this conversation and physical exam are all that’s needed to make a diagnosis. If there are any lingering questions, though, we might order an ultrasound.

Based on the exam, your provider will give your trigger finger or thumb a grade. The grade describes how bad the condition is and helps us choose the best treatment.

  • Grade 1: Your finger or thumb is a little tender or painful and sometimes locks up (catches) when you bend it (but this doesn’t happen during the physical exam).
  • Grade 2: Your finger or thumb catches or locks during the physical exam, but you can still extend it. Pain and tenderness is all over the board in this stage.
  • Grade 3: You have to use your other hand to bend or straighten your finger or thumb. It hurts and interferes with your daily life.
  • Grade 4: Your finger or thumb hurts and is stuck in a bent position.

Meet Our Trigger Finger Team

We work as a team at Cleveland Clinic. That means you may have several different specialists helping to diagnose and treat your trigger finger or thumb. Your team may include:


Our healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio and Florida.

Treating Trigger Finger at Cleveland Clinic

We offer lots of treatments for trigger finger or trigger thumb. Together, we’ll figure out what’s best for you.

Finger splinting

Wearing a finger splint at night will keep your finger or thumb straight while you sleep. You can also wear the splint during the day if it helps.

Hand therapy and exercises

You’ll work with an occupational therapist that specializes in hand and wrist conditions and rehabilitation. They’ll help you figure out which activities make your symptoms worse and offer suggestions for relief — like finding a different grip on your golf clubs or making changes to your workstation. They can also teach you stretches and exercises to keep your finger or thumb from getting stiff and help them move more easily.

Medications and injections

Medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce swelling and relieve pain. One or two steroid injections can also help with pain during a flare-up. Medications can have side effects, though, and often only work for a little while. We’ll let you know if we think medications are the way to go and then help you choose the option that’s right for you.

Trigger finger release

Trigger finger surgery is called tenolysis or trigger finger release. In most cases, this procedure can cure the condition. One of our expert hand surgeons will make a small incision (cut) in your hand. Then, they’ll release a band of tissue called a pulley, which holds the finger tendon close to the finger bone. Releasing the pulley will let your finger move more freely.

The procedure uses local anesthesia to numb the area, so you’ll be awake the whole time. It takes five to 10 minutes, and you’ll go home the same day. You’ll have only a couple of stitches, and we encourage you to move your finger right away.

Related conditions

Having rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes can sometimes make you more likely to develop trigger finger or thumb. If you have one of these conditions, your team will work closely with Cleveland Clinic rheumatologists or endocrinologists to properly manage those conditions, which can prevent future inflammation and symptoms in your hands.

If you have trigger finger or thumb, you may also be at higher risk of carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome. Our experts will test you for these related conditions and help you manage them, too.

What To Expect After Treatment for Trigger Finger at Cleveland Clinic

Depending on the treatment you choose and how bad your trigger finger or thumb is, you should feel much better right away. We’ll follow up with you every six weeks or so to make sure you’re improving or to recommend additional treatment options if necessary.

Taking the Next Step

Your fingers and thumbs shouldn’t click, pop, catch and lock. And it shouldn’t hurt to grab your cup of coffee, play the piano or plant flowers. If they do, and it does, then something’s wrong, and it might be trigger finger or thumb. Our hand specialists can help make your fingers and thumbs work the way they’re supposed to again — helping you be as pain-free as possible.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic trigger finger experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.


Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic trigger finger experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.

Manage your Cleveland Clinic account. Find billing information and financial assistance, plus FAQs.

Billing & Insurance

Manage your Cleveland Clinic account. Find billing information and financial assistance, plus FAQs.

Securely access your personal health information at any time, day or night.


Securely access your personal health information at any time, day or night.

Health Library
Back to Top