My Trigger Thumb Story

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I finally went to the clinic of my orthopedic doctor at Makati Medical Center yesterday to receive that much needed treatment for my trigger thumb, a steroid injection. First, the site of injection was sanitized with alcohol, then the local anesthesia was given (that hurt!), and finally the steroid was administered (a tiny prick was all I felt this time). The whole procedure was done in less than 10 minutes. It was that fast!

I started experiencing pain and discomfort in the thumb of my right hand a week before New Year 2021. What exactly was I feeling? My right thumb is always in a bent position. It’s hard to straighten it because doing so produces a clicking sound as if the bones are rubbing against each other. Now imagine the pain that goes with every movement of my thumb each time I am doing household chores and personal activities that require the use of my hands.

Not only was there a clicking sound in the thumb when straightening it or when making it go back to its original bent position, but there was also a lingering pain at the base of the thumb. Practically everything I do using my right hand is painful. The activities I usually perform without breaking a sweat– like cutting my nails, opening the faucet, wringing clothes while hand-washing, brushing our bathroom tiles, and even holding a bar of soap when showering – literally become agonizing.

I finally decided to consult an orthopedic doctor online last January 23, but before I did, I made a thorough online research of what exactly I was experiencing, and that’s where I found the term for it: trigger thumb.

See my bent thumb? It clicks and hurts when I straighten it. This photo was taken before the steroid injection.

According to Cleveland Clinic, a trigger thumb is a condition whereby the thumb gets stuck in a bent position. If it’s the other fingers, then it’s called trigger finger. The bent position of the thumb/finger resembles the act of “squeezing a trigger,” hence, the name trigger thumb/trigger finger. The thumb or finger is stiff and moving it produces a clicking, popping, or snapping sound. Another term for trigger thumb and trigger finger is stenosing tenosynovitis.

What Causes the Thumb/Finger to Be Stuck in a Bent Position?
We can move our thumb/fingers with the help of tendons. Tendons are tissues that join muscles to bones. Tendons glide easily because of tissues called sheaths. Our tendons become swollen when we have a trigger thumb/trigger finger. When tendons are inflamed, they can no longer slide through the sheaths. A nodule or bump may also form in the tendons which makes gliding through the sheaths even harder.

Who Are Susceptible to Trigger Thumb/Trigger Finger?
• People whose work or activities require strenuous repetitive movement of their thumb/fingers, like musicians or farmers
• People with diabetes, gout, or arthritis
• People between 40 and 60 years old
• More common in women than in men

After knowing about these facts, I realized I fall into all four categories listed above. First, when lockdown started last March 2020, the bulk of household chores fell on my shoulders. To avoid getting COVID from outside our home, we stopped sending our dirty clothes to the laundry shops. Instead, I handwashed all of them, including the towels, blankets, and bedsheets. Because I was washing our clothes once a week, it took me several hours to finish this task. This certainly put a lot of pressure on my thumb.

Second, we have a history of arthritis in the family. I also remember experiencing tendonitis of the elbow a few years ago, though, I’m not really sure if it has something to do with rheumatoid arthritis. I’m also in my late forties, so my age falls between the 40 to 60 range. Finally, my gender makes me more prone to it.

What Are the Symptoms of Trigger Thumb/Trigger Finger?
• Clicking, snapping, or popping sound when moving the thumb/finger
• Pain and stiffness of the thumb/finger
• Pain at the base of the thumb/finger, more noticeable when you grasp or grip
• Swelling or tenderness at the base of the finger
• Bent position of the thumb/finger that’s difficult to straighten
• With constant use of the hand, the stiffness diminishes

HHow to Treat Trigger Thumb/Trigger Finger?
• Rest the thumb/finger.
• Use a splint to prevent movement of the thumb/finger.
• Take anti-inflammatory drugs.
• Consider steroid injection.
• If condition recurs, surgery is recommended.

In my case, my ortho doctor didn’t ask me to rest my thumb/trigger, use a splint, or take anti-inflammatory medication. He suggested the steroid injection for my trigger thumb. Yesterday, my husband and I went very early to my ortho doctor’s clinic at Makati Medical Center to have the steroid injection done, which cost Php2,500. I also paid a consultation fee of Php1,000.

My ortho doctor told me to observe my thumb for a month. If the condition doesn’t improve, then I’ll have a second steroid injection. If that still doesn’t work, then the last option would be surgery.

Have you or someone you know experienced trigger thumb or trigger finger before? How did you/they resolve it?

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25 Responses

  1. Looks Hurt But Really Helpful To Our Hand., Sending My Love and Prayer for your Fast Recovery Mommy Tet… buti nalang talaga Makati Med. Is one Of the Best Medical clinic here in the Philippines, talagang maalaga sa mga pasyente

  2. Good to know po na ok na kayo Mommy tetcha.Isa talaga yung makati medical center sa kilalang hospital na magaling.nakaka amazed na ginamot lang nila in just 10minutes.Thank you for sharing your experience po at least just in case na may mangyari ganito alam na kung na yung gagawin.

    1. I really intended the blog post to be a teaching experience for those who will experience the same condition that I have. Thanks for reading it!

  3. Im hoping for your fast recovery momsh, i think it hurts but i think this vlog will help a lot to be careful narin kaya must read this momsh, nandito lang kami for you and mga nasa paligid mo 🤗 stay safe po and ingat palagi ❤

  4. Ngayon ko lang po nalaman tong trigger thumb. It gives too much discomfort. I hope maging ok na po kayo para no need na for second injection or surgery. I’ll include you to my prayers po. Get well soon po.

    1. Thank you so much. I really hope gumaling na rin ang trigger thumb ko soon. Take care din and keep safe!

  5. Oh, my husband also has arthritis and he is constantly using his fingers for work every day. You know what, in fact…we both fall into these categories so we really must look out. I don’t want to be injected, waah! But glad you’re getting the treatment you need.

    1. I’ve been avoiding going to the hospital for almost a year, but this trigger thumb happened, and I’m having a difficult/painful time doing chores at home, so yes, I went for the steroid injection against my will. It couldn’t be helped!

  6. seems like it really hurt a lot.. one na lagyan ka na steroid mawawala na or you have to regularly do it? what were you usually doing that has triggered it?

    1. I still have to observe for a month if the steroid injection will cure my trigger thumb. If it does not, then I have to go for a second steroid injection, and if that doesn’t work, too, then surgery will be my next option.

    1. My ortho doctor says sometimes the trigger thumb or trigger finger heals on its own, but in my case, I’ve already been suffering from pain and discomfort for almost 2 months.

  7. Omg mommy , sad to know 😓 same experience din po kayo ng ate ko gnyan din ng ngyare sa thumb niya kaya pinacheck up niya agad .. at ayun awa nman po ng diyos naging okay na 😊 hoping mommy na mging okay na dn po kayo para no more pain na and surgery . Get well po . ❤️

    1. Good to hear that your ate has already healed from her trigger finger. In my case, the pain at the base of the finger has already subsided, but my thumb is still in a bent position, and there’s still clicking and popping each time I try to straighten it. I hope I won’t be needing a second steroid shot.

  8. Praying for your fast recovery po. Thanks po sa pagshare ng info tungkol dito. Hindi ko alam na hndi pala normal ito. Lagi kong nararamdam yung ibang symptoms kaya nakakaalarma talaga. Pero saakin kasi minsan buong kamay/fingers ang kumikirot.

  9. Glad that you found the treatment, and thanks for sharing your story. I learned new information from your blog.

  10. This is my first time hearing about this medical condition. 🙈 That’s so unfortunate that you developed this… I hope that after a month of observation, it will finally go away.

  11. Parang I feel the pain while reading this. but there’s no need for a surgery. Tayong mga mommies pa naman dami dapat gawin sa bahay. I hope you’ll feel better now.

  12. Hoping you are better now sis. Just heard about trigger thumb now. It looks painful and uncomfortable for you and treating it is great so you won’t experience the discomfort and pain anymore.

  13. This post hits my heart. My youngest had a congenital trigger thumb (left and right). They also it Pediatric trigger thumb (PTT)–a flexion contracture of the joints (my child’s case, tendon). It is a condition that affects the movement of the thumb in children. The thumb gets stuck in a bent (flexed) position. If not treated, there will be a contracture, where thumbs can no longer stretch or straighten. Meaning, they cannot be used to pick up small legos or food. So, two days right after his first birthday, he had to undergo an operation and wear a brace for few months. Now, he can use both of his thumbs. 🙂

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