Trigger Finger

I have had this on 2 of my fingers for over a year now. One is painless - just has the trigger action going on. I spoke to my physician who said that if it is not painful just ignore it. The second finger (which was also painless in the beginning) has some pain now and not so much of the trigger since it does not quite bend all the way now.
What was your situation if you had trigger finger? What doctor did you go to for the cortisone shot/evaluation? Did you have to take time off from work - did it completely go away etc … Any information will be much appreciated. Thanks!

My mom had trigger finger unrelated to diabetes. Her trigger finger was corrected by outpatient surgery.

Dman, what on earth is “trigger finger”, it sounds really dodgy.

I have this in the small finger on my right hand. I’ve had it for almost a year now and keep putting off getting it fixed.

Josephine, it is when the tendon at the base of the finger becomes inflamed to the point where it no longer easily slides into or out of its sheath where the finger meets the hand. So it “catches” (gets stuck for a moment) and then slips past. Apparently this is a common thing for diabetics. It is usually painless or only exhibits very minor pain, but it is extremely annoying. Like Dave said, surgery is quick, about 20 minutes and you’re awake during it. I’ve heard cortisone shots resolve the problem permanently about 50% of the time.

Most people don’t know what specifically caused them to get it. I just woke up with it one day, but I suspect in my case it was from weightlifting- gripping bars and such so often.

I’m going to see a hand surgeon one of these days soon. . .

I have it, on both middle fingers… 8^(

All my fault, a few years ago we were renovating the second floor of the house and I added ledger boards between all of the joists to strengthen the floor. It worked great, but the spacing was not good to use the drill to put in screws so I used a 5 lbs mallet and more than 100 nails to do the job. It took a few days, and the fulcrum of the hammer was roughly my middle finger. Thats when the problem started and it just kept getting worse. Since then I have learned a few things, I try to sleep on my hands to wake up with then straightened out and that seems to be helping them. I have thought about getting them straight and then splinting them for a few days to see what happens.

Mostly, I am trying to make excuses to avoid surgery, but I really miss the days when it looked meaningful when I gave someone the bird. 8^)


I had trigger on the middle finger of my right hand and it was corrected in outpatient surgery. Pretty painless and able to continue almost as normal for a few weeks until all was completely healed. No problems since.

Thanks all - so now I guess I go looking for a hand surgeon. Or would you try the cortisone shots first to see if that will work? I guess that is the question I would ask the hand doctor. Is that what they are called?

Pretty dodgy is right - Jason explains it below better than I can.

It was not bad when it first started - sort of something you show at parties over cocktails “hey look at my robotic fingers whoo”

Then i would wake up and strectch and all fingers on my left hand would stretch minus the middle and pinky ones that protest and stay in fist curl position - this would require me to use my fingers on the other hand to straighten them out and they would be fine for the rest of the day.

I read up on it and some suggestions were to put a splint on at night and avoid grasping heavy things, or vibrating machinery yada yada for SIX WEEKS! Sort of impossible for me since I use a motorcycle to get around and I go to the gym frequently. Now it is getting annoying - and even more annoying is failing to execute on giving the bird to someone that pisses you off and instead just end up shaking your fist - thats the last straw!

Yes, to agree with Debb, I have heard of trigger fingers freezing in the bent position.
In addition to having T1DM for 35 years, I do beadwork, stained glass, metalsmithing, calligraphy and lots of knitting. I’ve only had one TF, and it started with a nodule right below the finger, on m palm. That just sat there for about a year and then the finger started to catch. It was very annoying. Then it started to swell and hurt and get stiff.
I called the orthopedic department of my clinic system and saw the doc and got a cortisone shot. I noticed immediate improvement, but it only lasted 6 months. When I went back to see him he said h’ed recommend the surgery, but, if I wanted to I could try just one more injection. I did, and got no relief.
In the 3 years prior, I had had 4 eye surgeries and surgery on a broken ankle and did not have the emotional energy to face another procedure.
So, I just let it be. Then, about a year later, I suddenly noticed that the finger was normal. Go figure. The only thing that remains is the nodule on the palm. And, I continue to do all my “hand” stuff. I have been symptom free for over 2 years.
Oh, and also, the doc said that hypothyroidism is another risk factor, which I also have.

Lupus or diabetes? I don’t know and the doctors can’t tell me, but I’ve had 6 surgeries so far on fingers, thumb and outer wrist for triggering and tenosynovitis. At first we’d go through the splint, injection route. I must be very pain sensitive. The injections always hurt like hell, and in only 2 instances, did I get some relief. After surgery there was a bit of pain, but before, it was worse for much longer (18 months one time) and had me struggling to straighten fingers every day. Mine got pretty bad and I was severely restricted in what I could do.

With the last 3 surgeries (latest in Feb this year) surgeon never bothered with injections or any other treatment. He just scheduled surgery soon as I appeared again with a problem. I did have to wear splints, but just to stop the fingers getting stuck all the time.

Surgery isn’t without risk. I had them all done with an arm block. After one surgery I had a big bleed into my hand (ouch) because of the day surgery nurse’s stupidity (long story), and had me at the ER that night in terrible pain, much to my surgeon’s horror. Recovery took a tad longer with that one and my palm was black and blue for ages. It was also discovered that I am allergic to betadine and possibly to the sutures that were used, so recovery from those was with pain and intense itching for me.

My hands are now totally pain-free and all my fingers move properly, although not all with the kind of double-jointedness I had before (could bend my fingers back further than most). It is such a huge relief for me after the last 7 years of dealing with it. I truly appreciate what my hands can do these days.

Not sure how others had pain-free recoveries. I had lots of inflammation and that takes time to heal along with the inch long scars. The wrist took 3 months to be rid of the pain after the surgeon “cleaned”.

Despite everything, I’d have the tendon-release surgery again in a heartbeat.

I disagree. I had it in my right pinkie. It was painful. Went to an orthopedic surgeon and he gave me a cortisone shot. The shot itself didn’t hurt but I had a mild reaction to the cortisone that made my whole arm burn tremendously and ache badly. That pain lasted about six hours. Three days later my finger was cured. My surgeon said he doubts it will ever come back. I had it about two months before I mentioned it to my family dr. He got me into the surgeon the next day. He told me the longer you wait the worst it becomes and the harder it is to correct. Mine was ruled work related and not because I’m diabetic.

I’ve had one trigger finger for which I had a cortisone shot and it solved the problem…that was over 20 years ago. The doc said if it didn’t help I would have to have surgery.

I’ve had numerous trigger fingers. The cortico-steroids stopped working. I probably need to have surgery but, with all that is happening in my life now, I just can’t address that. I go to one of the finest hand surgeons in the country here in Milwaukee. Dr. David Olsen (on, en??) I am going to see him and ask him why it seems to affect diabetics a lot. I know my original hand problems started from repetitive motions like keyboarding.

Lois La Rose
Milwaukee, WI

one of the things I have always appreciated about Milwaukee is that part where we have some of the best medical care available. Just look at the stats, if you have heart problems you want to be at St. Lukes. Getting an MRI done in Milwaukee is easy as there is pretty much no waiting to have it done. Its sad, I love Milwaukee, except for the serious lack of economic opportunity there, which keeps me on the road.


Hi Everyone.

I am 25 and have type 1 diabetes for 17 years. Last year I had surgery for carpal tunnel syndrom which the doctors said could be related to diabetes. The past couple weeks on the same hand I have been experiencing trigger finger with my ring and index finger. These types of things scare me because I believe they are complications and I feel that I am very young to have these issues already. My HbA1c is not terrible, 6.8, I want it to be much better and will continue to try.

My question is, how old was everyone when they started to get trigger finger and what is your HbA1c? Also would you consider this to be one of the beginner complications? It just worries me thinking what will happen 5 - 10 years down the road. I was expecting complications in my 40’s, not 20’s.

I’ve had three trigger fingers operated on (two thumbs and ring finger on right hand). The first one to act up was my left thumb. I got a cortisone shot, and it went away, and miraculously didn’t have a problem with it for another 6 years. When it started acting up again, I had a cortisone shot which helped again, but only for a few months. The third shot didn’t help at all, so I had the surgery.

Similar course with the right thumb, although never got all that much time out of the cortisone shots. On both thumbs, I was having carpal tunnel surgery anyway, so we did the thumbs at the same time.

By the time I got the trigger in the ring finger, I got one cortisone shot which basically didn’t help, so I.just went ahead and had the surgery.

As for recovery…no recovery necessary for cortisone shot. Recovery from surgery…complete recovery took a while, but I was able to do quite a bit once the stitches were out (about 8-19 days). You do have to be careful about lifting anything heavy for a while, but you can use the finger quite quickly for most things. Oh, and they advise you to bend and straighten the finger several times per hour to keep it from stiffening up.


I was diabetic for almost 20 years before my first trigger finger - I have had 4 surgeries since then. The first two were very close together - the second one happened after I saw the ortho guy for the first time. I tried cortisone on the first two and it did nothing. I went about 6 years and ended up with two more. Because I moved, I had to go to a different doctor. I was worried that he would try & push the cortisone on me but he actually did not recommend it for diabetics. I know the only thing it did for me was raise my BS. The third finger, I let go too long because I had been going thru some other health problems at the time and it is still bent even after surgery.

The first surgeon I went to told me that I would eventually end up with all of my fingers having it because of my complexion (I am fair skinned). I don’t know how true that is but I know a nurse I know that has a fair complexion has problems with her hands and said her brother does also - they are not diabetic. My sister is not diabetic & she also has a trigger finger now.

I had trigger right thumb they relocated the position of tendon in out-patient surgery that was 15 years ago. My thumb would lockup and it was very apinfull to unlock it. Since the surgery no problem.

I learned something new today… Never knew this could happen. Interesting.

From what I can remember I started experiencing the beginning of complications in my 30s but that was way back in the dark ages before I saw the light.