Are you struggling with painful popping or locking of one of your fingers or your thumb?

Well it could be trigger finger or trigger thumb. It’s painful, it limits your motion, and frankly it gets in the way of using your hands.

In this blog post, I’m going to break down my top 5 trigger finger or trigger thumb mistakes preventing you from healing. If you prefer video, I’ve also dished on these mistakes on my YouTube channel here:

Trigger Finger or Trigger Thumb Mistake #1-Ignoring the symptoms

“It’s fine, it will just go away!” If this sounds like you, you may assume that your symptoms will resolve over time or on their own. Therefore you delay seeking treatment. Unfortunately, this can lead to your trigger finger or trigger thumb getting worse.

Using your hand as you normally would, causing it to pop, or lock, or get stuck A LOT throughout the day.  When in reality THIS will cause the triggering to become harder to treat.

Because the more your finger or thumb catches, the more inflamed, and therefore the more severe it will become. On the flip side, for some people, ignoring the symptoms means avoiding finger or thumb use.

In turn, you avoid grasping anything with that finger. You stick your finger or thumb straight out causing you to awkwardly hold objects.

Because you know if you do, your finger will get stuck or you’ll have a painful catch. Needless to say, that doesn’t work either. You could be causing your finger or thumb to become very stiff finger. And at that point, you’ve now created another problem.  

Trigger Finger or Trigger Thumb Mistake #2- Overusing the affected finger

“I just need to squeeze a ball and strengthen my hand more..” This is the complete opposite of #1. For some, you believe that aggressively squeezing a ball or strengthening your hand will heal it.

Unfortunately, continuing to use the affected finger or thumb with repetitive gripping, squeezing, etc despite experiencing symptoms can make your condition worse. This repetitive use adds more inflammation to an already inflamed tendon. Therefore, only prolonging your recovery time. Since there are 4 Grades of trigger finger (depending on the scale you use), you could worsen your condition.

Intesifying from a Grade 2, which is usually just a little catching, to a Grade 4. This is when your finger is completely locked and you can’t move at all.

Trigger Finger or Trigger Thumb Mistake #3- Not seeking professional help

Some of you may try to self-treat your trigger finger without consulting a healthcare professional. It is essential to get a proper diagnosis from a Hand Surgeon.

Trigger finger can be easily confused with other conditions, such as Dupuytren’s disease, sagittal band ruptures, metacarpal ligament injuries and so on.

And the treatment is not the same, so you may be wasting your time and possibly money doing the WRONG treatment. And for those reasons, I always recommend seeing a Board Certified Hand Surgeon to get a proper diagnosis.

Trigger Finger or Trigger Thumb Mistake #4- Not trying conservative treatment first

Many people will dive right into injections or surgery without a trial of less invasive solutions like splinting, stretching, taping, anti inflammatories, rest, and so on. Making this one of the more common trigger finger or trigger thumb mistakes preventing you from healing.

In fact, one study found that around 60-70% of people with trigger finger experienced improvement with conservative treatment. Another study found that up to 80% of patients with mild to moderate trigger finger improved with conservative treatment. Keep in mind conservative treatments usually take a combination of splinting, stretching, massaging, exercising, and several things.  Image shows a MP block splint applied to ring finger to stop triggering.Oval 8 ring splint to index finger middle joint to stop triggering of finger.An exercise that I have had great success with and has been studied as effective for treating trigger finger, is an isometric pulley exercise. I do have a video on how to perform that exercise here. Image shows exercise to trigger finger by applying moderate isometric resistance to the tip of the finger.

Trigger Finger or Trigger Thumb Mistake #5- Trying to rush your recovery

This means not following the treatment plan for the length of time recommended. Patience is definitely needed when it comes to healing a trigger finger or thumb. It can take a long time for the triggering to stop.

Sometimes 6-8 weeks or longer.

If you are not following the plan correctly this can slow recovery time, and can even make the condition worse. 

What could have healed in 2 months, is now going to take  A LOT longer.

And when this happens I usually hear people say that conservative tx didn’t work for them. Well…did you really follow through with the whole plan?  Now with that said, one interesting study showed that out of 343 pts with trigger finger, 52% resolved without any treatment whatsoever.  And trigger thumbs resolved at an astounding 72%!

That’s Spontaneous Resolution of trigger fingers and trigger thumbs.

However, this was after an average of 8 months after they saw the doctor.

8 months! 

I rest my case that patience is key. You can’t rush healing no matter how hard you try. 

Recap and final thoughts:

Don’t ignore your symptoms by not using your hand or on the flip side overusing your hand, seek professional help from a hand surgeon, always try conservative treatment 1st (and I will add see a Certified Hand Therapist for that) and don’t rush…follow through with your treatment plan. With all that said, sometimes surgery is needed and there is nothing wrong with that. But with that comes cost, time, post operative pain, incision care, scarring and swelling, all of that.

So make sure you pick the method of treatment that works best for you. I hope you found this post helpful. If you did please share with others. Now head over to my Top 5 trigger finger treatment blog post to get ideas on conservative ways to help your trigger finger. 

Still looking to stop your trigger finger?