Congenital Trigger Thumb and Congenital Trigger Finger

Congenital trigger thumb and finger occur when the tendons that move the digits enlarge. This makes it hard for the tendons to pass smoothly through the canal they run in — called the tendon sheath.

Often painless, the condition causes the finger or thumb to pop or click when your child tries to straighten it.


Contact the Hand Surgery Program at UPMC Children's

To learn more or make an appointment for your child's congenital trigger thumb or finger, call 412-648-9670.


What Are Congenital Trigger Thumb and Congenital Trigger Finger?

These conditions happen when the thumb or finger have trouble straightening and get stuck in a bent position.

In adults, trigger finger is often the result of repeated motion, such as playing a musical instrument. But in children, congenital trigger thumb is much more common than congenital trigger finger.

Congenital trigger thumb occurs in about 3 out of every 1,000 1-year-olds.

People with these conditions often feel a popping or clicking when they try to move the affected digits.

Congenital trigger thumb/finger causes

Doctors don't know why children get congenital trigger thumb or finger, but they can form in the first few years of life.

In adults, trigger finger and trigger thumb sometimes occur with:

Congenital Trigger Thumb/Finger Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms your child has congenital trigger thumb or congenital trigger finger include:

  • The finger or thumb gets stuck in one position, often flexed.
  • Popping or clicking when the finger or thumb moves.
  • Stiffness.
  • Swelling.
  • Discomfort.
  • A bump on the base of the thumb or finger, on the palm side.

Congenital trigger thumb/finger diagnosis

Doctors at UPMC Children's Hospital can often diagnose these conditions with a simple physical exam.

Sometimes, they may order imaging tests like x-rays.

Congenital Trigger Thumb and Congenital Trigger Finger Treatment

In babies under a year old, congenital trigger thumb or finger treatment involves mostly watching and waiting.

In most cases, the problem resolves itself before the child's third birthday.

If your child has symptoms, we can think about surgery before they're 3.

Outpatient surgery to treat congenital trigger thumb/finger

If your child's condition doesn't resolve on its own, simple outpatient surgery can help.

Recovery time is short.

Your child will need to wear a bandage for a few days. After the bandage comes off, they'll be able to move their hand freely.

Our team often will check on your child a few weeks after surgery to confirm that the healing process is going well.