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I Think I Have a Trigger Thumb. What Do I Do About It?


If you think you have a Trigger thumb, we recommend reading the blog titled “My thumb hurts - What’s wrong?” first.  The section on Trigger thumb may help to confirm your suspicion or direct you to consider if you might have another condition.  It is important that you have an understanding of what may be wrong before even thinking about what to do about it.  If you have read “My thumb hurts - What’s wrong”, welcome back.

There are other problems that can cause thumb pain and popping or clicking and each condition is different and needs to be properly diagnosed before it can be treated. Diagnosis is best done by your physician or a therapist who specializes in treating hand conditions. The information in this blog is meant to be discussed with your doctor or therapist so they can guide you in choosing the most appropriate and safe treatment.

Trigger Thumb - as with several of the conditions discussed previously, Trigger Thumb is an inflammatory process.  When the tendons that flex or bend the thumb become enlarged they can catch or snap as they move the thumb. The earlier treatment is started, the better chance that the triggering can be relieved with conservative treatment.

Intermittent icing and a proper dosage of anti-inflammatory medicines are important and should be started as soon as possible.  If the problem is severe and has progressed to the point where the tendon locks the thumb in a bent position, a steroid injection to reduce the inflammation may be required. If the problem persists, surgery may be recommended to loosen the tendon sheath (covering) and restore motion.

3pp ThumSaver MP for treatment of trigger thumb
Splinting is important to limit the range of motion of the thumb in order to allow the tendon to rest.  A splint that limits motion allows the tendon to rest. What is most important with Trigger Thumb is to prevent the tendon from moving to the point where is snaps or clicks. This can be accomplished with a hand-based or finger-based splint. 

Oval 8 finger splint for treating trigger thumb

It is important to wear the splint until the symptoms are completely gone. Continuing to use a splint at night after an injection or surgery can be very helpful as a “retainer” to prevent clenching the finger into a fist at night.

For additional information on triggering, see our conditions page on “Trigger Finger”, which also includes a helpful graphic.

If you found this information helpful, click one of the “like” buttons or sign up for free notification of future blog updates. 


I already knew I had trigger thumb when I first visited this website today, but I haven't had an opportunity to research it before. I was pleased to learn about the non-invasive treatments here, and to see the thumb splints. (Would have liked to see the underside as well of the second one depicted. ) Thanks for easy-to-comprehend info.
Posted @ Friday, March 22, 2013 1:01 PM by Gina Foxx
For trigger thumb, which position should the splint hold the thumb? In the extended position, or in the bent position? Or, does it matter, as long as the thumb is prevented from popping or clicking?
Posted @ Tuesday, July 02, 2013 9:22 PM by D Rae
Thank you for your inquiry about what position to splint a trigger finger. 
Standard treatment has always been to hold the IP joint (the end joint near the fingernail) straight and prevent it from bending more than a little bit. There really is no research on keeping the thumb in a bent position so there is no way to compare which might be best. Holding the end joint straight does allow you to continue to use your thumb which usually means you are more likely to wear the splint if you can keep using your hand with the splint on. 
Wearing an Oval-8 Finger Splint ( with the oval section on the inside or pad side of the thumb and the band on the top or back of the thumb leaves the pad of the thumb open and allows some bending so you can use your hand and even use your hand in water. The splint should be fit with the band around the joint or slightly below the joint. The video “How to treat a trigger finger with an Oval-8 splint” ( explains trigger finger and discusses details how long to wear the splint. Even though the video shows the splint on a finger, the treatment schedule is the same for a trigger thumb. 
Information on how to choose the proper size Oval-8 Finger Splint and where to buy them can be found on the 3-Point Products website.  
I hope this information is helpful to you. 
Posted @ Wednesday, July 03, 2013 11:45 AM by Karen Colony
I found this information extremely helpful, when I see my GP I will ask him about it, as my right thumb is extremely painful, have terrible trouble straightening it in the mornings, and find it very hard doing jobs as I'm right handed,
Posted @ Friday, December 13, 2013 5:38 PM by Daphne Adamson
I have the same problem with my right hand thumb. I went to my GP and and she sent me to obtain "x ray". After the x ray result GP told me nothing wrong with my thumb and advice me to take voltaran from the chemist. Still I am in pain. I will go and buy a finger splint and wear it ASAP. Thanks for this articl.
Posted @ Saturday, December 28, 2013 10:48 AM by MV
I am a landscaper and after this season I started experiencing excruciating pain in my times they lock and it takes manually moving them into a free moving position causing me extreme its impossible for me to move my left thumb from joint to tip in the morning I can't move either one more than a few centermeters in any direction. Through out course of the day I will (with out thinking) attempt to perform a normal task ie:text, button or un button, open bottle etc.thus causing me tocry out in pain. I have no strength and simple tasks are impossible. I am frustrated and at times humiliated I've always prided myself on being a strong independent woman I'm self employed and don't carry insurance on myself so I haven't seen a doctor. Is there any helpful hints as to solving my paralyizing issues? Anything would help thanks,  
Sticking out like a sore thumb
Posted @ Wednesday, February 12, 2014 4:02 AM by sticking out like a sore thumb
Register for the Affordable Care insurance. It covers pre-existing conditions
Posted @ Friday, February 14, 2014 7:56 AM by t h
Thank you for visiting our site and reading our blog. I am sorry to hear about the pain you are experiencing with your thumbs. Please know that we cannot give you a diagnosis but will attempt to lead you in a helpful direction. 
While it does sound as though you may have trigger thumb, it is not entirely clear from your description that this is what is happening or is in fact the only condition you may be experiencing. Given the level of pain and dysfunction you describe, I strongly recommend you seek out appropriate medical advice from a hand specialist. Whether it is trigger thumb or an inflammatory condition such as deQuervain’s tenosynovitis or possibly some arthritis,, proper treatment is the only way to assure the pain is managed and the problem properly treated so it does not become permanent. 
With that said, you may try using a splint to block thumb motion and allow it to rest. You may start by resting it thoroughly at night in a splint that rests the thumb and the wrist such as the ThumSaver CMC Long or the 3pp Ultra Spica . It is likely that you will need to wear a splint for at least 2-3 weeks to see any significant improvement. During the day you may want to try a soft splint such as the 3pp ThumSpica that will limit some motion but still allow hand function  
An Oval-8 splint can also be used to limit motion at the end of your thumb. Worn with the band on the top of the end joint and the oval section on the pad side of your thumb will limit or prevent triggering if that is in fact what is happening. 
Using a splint and over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines should allow you to assess if these measures truly lessen the pain. Given the length of time you indicate you have been in pain, you will need to give any self-treatment a few weeks to make a determination of success. Please know that only someone who can see you is really able to direct you to the most appropriate treatment. The comment following yours on the 3-Point website - Register for the Affordable Care insurance - may in fact be the most helpful advice. 
Posted @ Wednesday, February 19, 2014 7:52 AM by Karen Colony
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