Trigger finger and trigger thumb are two conditions that go hand-in-hand (literally). This condition, at best, is mildly irritating and, at worst, is extremely painful and debilitating. Trigger finger occurs when your finger’s tendon sheath (the sleeve around the tendon) becomes irritated, causing inflammation. This inflammation impedes your finger’s natural gliding motion when you try to bend it. This results in many common symptoms including finger stiffness, a popping or clicking sensation, tenderness or even a visible bump at the base of your finger, and finger locking in a bent position.
In most cases, many different at home treatments can remedy the catching of the digit in a bent position and the pain upon release. Some include anti-inflammatory medication, hot and cold therapy, wearing a trigger finger brace, and stretches or exercises to help alleviate your symptoms.
Sometimes, a trigger finger or thumb brace is not enough to take care of the condition and trigger finger surgery is necessary. Alongside surgery, trigger finger therapy exercises will be needed to get the digit back to optimal functioning. Below are a few common trigger finger treatment exercises as well as some trigger finger stretches.
- Finger Lifts
One of the main factors of trigger finger is thought to be repetitive gripping motions from hobbies or jobs such as driving, playing tennis, etc. One exercise for trigger finger that can help to strengthen your tendons is to lay the hand palm-down on a flat surface and then to lift each finger one by one (focusing on even strength) with special emphasis on the injured digit. You should raise each finger slowly and deliberately then hold each finger/thumb in the lifted position for a second or two before resting it.
- Lay your hand out flat on a table or solid surface.
- Use your other hand to hold the affected finger.
- Slowly lift up the finger and keep the rest of your fingers flat.
- Lift and stretch the finger as high as it will go without straining.
- Hold it here for a few seconds and release it back down.
- You can do this stretch on all of your fingers and your tfhumb.
- Do 1 set of 5 repetitions.
- Repeat 3 times throughout the day.
2. Rubber Band Stretch
Another extensor trigger finger exercise involves drawing the thumb and fingers together, wrapping a rubber band around them and then opening and closing the hand against this resistance.
- Begin by pinching the tips of your fingers and thumbs.
- Put an elastic band around your fingers.
- Move your fingers away from your thumb so that the band becomes tight.
- Extend your fingers and thumb away and close to each other 10 times.
- You should be able to feel the slight tension of the elastic while you’re doing this.
- Then bend your fingers and thumb towards your palm.
- Hook the elastic band in the middle.
- Use your opposite hand to pull the end of the band to create slight tension.
- Keep the tension as you straighten and bend your fingers 10 times.
- Repeat at least 3 times throughout the day.
3. Finger-Thumb Circle Stretch/ “O” Exercise
The next exercise involves placing your injured finger to your thumb, essentially creating a circle shape (like the “OK” emoji).
- Bring your affected finger to your thumb to form an “O” shape.
- Hold here for 5 seconds.
- Then straighten your finger and bring it back to the “O” position.
- Repeat 10 times at least twice a day.
4. Tennis Ball Exercise
This exercise incorporates grabbing a tennis ball or a stress ball.
- Hold it in the palm of your hand
- Squeeze the ball tightly
- Hold for about five seconds then release.
- Repeat 5-10 times every day
5. Finger Spread
Trigger finger exercises that work on the abduction muscles can also be helpful for trigger finger treatment.
- Spread your fingers as wide as possible and hold for a few seconds.
- Then squeeze your fingers close together.
- Now bend all of your fingers backward for a few seconds, and then forward.
- Place your thumb upright and gently draw the thumb back for a few seconds.
- Repeat each stretch several times.
- Do these stretches at least twice per day.
6. Fingers to Palm Stretch/Tendon Gliding
This is one of the most useful exercises to help relieve your pain.
- Spread your fingers straight as wide as possible.
- Bend your fingers so that your fingertips touch the top of your palm.
- Straighten your fingers again and spend them wide.
- Then bend your fingers to touch the middle of your palm.
- Open your fingers wide.
- Now bring your fingertips to touch the bottom of your palm.
- Then bring your thumb to touch each fingertip.
- Bring your thumb to touch different places on your palm.
- Do 3 sets twice a day.
7. Finger “V” Stretch
This exercise has you hold the injured finger and the one next to it extended out. Then spread them apart from one another so they form a “V.” Place your thumb and index finger of your other hand inside of the split fingers and apply pressure to slowly spread the fingers apart further, until you feel a stretch. (But do not stretch them so far that it hurts). Repeat 5 times.
8. Paper or towel grasp
- Place a sheet of paper or small towel in the palm of your hand.
- Use your fingers to squeeze and scrunch the paper or towel into as small of a ball as possible.
- Apply pressure to your fist while you’re squeezing and hold this position for a few seconds.
- Then slowly straighten your fingers and release the paper or towel.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Do this exercise twice a day.
Don’t forget about self-massage!
In addition to these exercises, it’s recommended to massage the joint or area that is affected by trigger finger. Massaging will help in circulation, flexibility, and range of motion and also help ease inflammation. Try massaging your hand for a couple minutes every day before and even after you do the exercises above.
To do this:
- You can massage or rub in a gentle circular motion.
- Apply firm but gentle pressure.
- You can massage the joint and entire area that’s affected by trigger finger or focus on specific points.
- You can press and hold each point for about 30 seconds.
You may wish to massage your entire hand, wrist, and forearm, as all of these areas are connected. You can decide which method feels best and achieves the best results.
Source: Braceability and Healthline