Trigger Thumb and Trigger Finger in Children: Care Instructions

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Inside view of the thumb, showing the bones and the tendon nodule that sticks so the thumb can't straighten


A trigger thumb is a thumb stuck in a bent position. It can also happen to a finger. It happens when the tendon that bends and straightens the thumb or finger can't slide smoothly under the ligaments that hold the tendon against the bones. In most cases, this is caused by a bump (nodule) that forms on the tendon. The cause of the bump isn't known. Some cases may be caused by inflammation or problems with how the muscle develops.

Your child's bent thumb or finger may straighten out on its own.

A trigger thumb or finger can be painful. But it normally isn't a serious problem. Rest and exercises may help the thumb or finger relax so that it can move freely.

The doctor may put a splint on your child's thumb or finger. This will give it some rest. Your child may need surgery if the thumb or finger keeps locking in a bent position.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If the doctor put a splint on the thumb or finger, have your child wear it as directed. Don't take it off until the doctor says you can.
  • Give your child any medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with the medicine.
  • If your doctor suggests exercises, have your child do them as directed.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child's thumb or finger locks in a bent position and won't straighten.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.