How to repair trigger thumb

Updated November 21, 2016

Trigger thumb develops when the tendons in your thumb, which are held to your bones by ligaments known as pulleys, develop thickened nodules. Your ligaments can become thickened too. As a result, your thumb will bend and lock. Your thumb will then suddenly straighten, as if pulling the trigger of a gun. Depending on the severity of your trigger thumb, the repair of your thumb will vary.

Get a cortisone injection by your orthopaedic doctor. The injection should be directed into your thumb's tendon sheath, which is the protective covering of the tendons, to alleviate inflammation associated with your trigger thumb as well as to help shrink any thickened nodules.

Have your thumb fitted for a splint after receiving a cortisone injection. This will help restrict movement of your thumb. According to the Mayo Clinic, you may need to wear the splint for six weeks.

Undergo surgery as a last resort to repair your thumb. Surgery is done on an outpatient basis. Keep the bandage on your thumb after your surgery for the time recommended by your surgeon. The bandage will keep swelling down and reduce bleeding from the surgical site.

Undergo rehabilitation after you heal from your surgery, if necessary. According to eOrthopod, rehabilitation won't be needed unless your thumb was in a locked position prior to your surgical procedure.

Have your thumb fitted with a brace if your thumb doesn't straighten immediately after your thumb surgery.

Receive treatments from a physical therapist to help stretch your thumb. Learn exercises from your therapist to help improve range of motion in your thumb and to help strengthen the ligaments and joints in your thumb. According to eOrthopod, exercises for your thumb should be done for about six weeks after undergoing your surgery.


Rest your finger as much as possible. Soak your thumb in warm water to reduce inflammation. Massage your thumb to relieve symptoms of pain.


Avoid overusing your thumb. Avoid using repetitive motions of your thumb. Do not use your thumb for gripping when opening jars or bottles.

Things You'll Need

  • Cortisone injection
  • Splint
  • Finger exercises
  • Finger massage
  • Surgery
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