Pain and stiffness radiating through your finger. A struggle to unlock your joints, leaving your finger painfully extended and impossible to use. Work is a struggle, and everyday activities (even the fun ones) lose their charm. This is life with Trigger Finger.
And we’re here to make it better.
Trigger Finger is a condition in which the tendon in the finger becomes inflamed, either due to repetitive use or a related health condition.
This results in the finger locking, or staying in an extended position. It’s painful, and even debilitating, made only worse because those who aren’t suffering from it do not actually understand how much it can hold the sufferer back.
The good news is that there are some easy at-home treatments for trigger finger, that require little or no equipment at all. Most of the time, trigger finger can be treated on its own, and does not require surgery or extensive medical care. We’ve rounded up five of our favorite low-cost ways to relieve trigger finger pain from the comfort of home.
Sometimes, the answer is really that simple! One of the best ways to help restore an afflicted trigger finger is through good old fashioned rest. Often, trigger finger is caused and exacerbated by repetitive use of the joint, so giving that joint a break will help it have time to heal. Just as you would probably not walk on a sprained ankle (hey, you do you, but it’s only going to make it worse), you should not be using your inflamed finger. Rest the finger for as long as you’re able! If you can take a few weeks off from the activity causing the pain, do yourself a favor and do it.
Of course, many people acquire trigger finger because of job-related activities, and it can be quite a bit harder to just not work. First, explore what options your employer has for work-related injury accommodations. It’s possible there is more that can be done than you might think! If not, however, try to take breaks whenever possible, and rest the finger in your down time. Even if that means your spouse has to cook dinner a few nights a week!
2. COMPRESSION GLOVES
If excessive rest isn’t an option for you, there are other easy techniques you can use to relieve pain. Compression gloves may provide just the relief you need. Compression gloves help to reduce inflammation, by providing gentle pressure on the painful nerves and joints in the hand. They are useful for arthritis, carpal tunnel, hand pain, and of course, trigger finger. In the same way a knee brace can help when you’ve spent too much time jogging, compression gloves ease inflammation while still allowing range of motion. This means the wearer can still type, chop vegetables, or grip the dog’s leash without removing the glove. Many people even sleep with compression gloves on, allowing the affected joints to heal overnight!
3. STRETCH & EXERCISE
Another great way to relieve trigger finger pain is through stretching. Since the inflammation is preventing the finger joint from extending and contracting, stretching can help get things moving again. If you want that mobility back again, start each day with some gentle hand stretches (your body will tell you when to stop, and we really encourage you to listen). Open and close your fist, allowing each of the fingers on the affected hand to stretch out and reach as much as possible. Additionally, extend your arm in front of you and use the opposite hand to gently pull back the fingers on the trigger finger hand. Some people also swear by placing both palms against the wall or a hard surface and pushing down, to put light pressure on the inflamed tendons.
As always, listen to your body and your pain cues! If something hurts, don’t force yourself to keep going. We can offer you all the stretches and exercises in the world, but we’ll never know your body like you do. (Can you imagine, though?).
4. TRIGGER FINGER SPLINT
One of the most effective ways to treat trigger finger from home (and affordably!) is with the use of atrigger finger splint. This is a small device that keeps the finger stable, wrapping around it with adjustable compression. A splint can be worn at night, to reduce inflammation in the morning, or throughout the day, to remove pressure from using the affected hand. This will help keep the finger steady - the wearer can continue typing, texting, and attending meetings-that-should’ve-been-emails without worrying they’re making their finger pain worse!
5. OVER-THE-COUNTER MEDICATION
One last thing that is helpful in treating the pain of trigger finger at home is over-the-counter medication. This is a quicker fix, because trigger finger can return if the activities causing it are not addressed, but that does not mean it’s an ineffective fix! Ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are excellent at reducing inflammation and halting pain, and of course they are readily available and non-habit forming. (Please note - pregnant people are generally asked to avoid NSAIDs, so speak to a doctor about alternatives). As always, however, we recommend speaking to your doctor, especially if over-the-counter medication stops helping trigger finger pain.
Trigger Finger is a minor condition that can be debilitating. You don’t deserve to live in pain, and we hope these small tips will go a long way toward improving your quality of life.
If you find you require more assistance, learn about trigger finger surgery here. Or visit the rest of our series on trigger finger.
Written By: Jess Krzyczkowski
Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Ben Frederick