Can Physical Therapy Heal Trigger Finger?

Mar 01, 2024

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Can Physical Therapy Heal Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger, also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that affects the tendons in your fingers. While it can happen to anyone, it’s more common in people with diabetes. In fact, as many as 20% of people with diabetes experience trigger finger. 

Trigger finger can result in pain, stiffness, and difficulty bending or straightening your affected digit.  Your finger might also feel like it “catches” or gets stuck when you bend it.

While severe cases may require surgery, physical therapy is a noninvasive and effective approach to managing and potentially healing trigger finger. 

Here’s how physical therapy addresses trigger finger, how targeted exercises and therapeutic techniques can contribute to the alleviation of symptoms, and when our board-certified surgeons at Sequoia Institute for Surgical Services may suggest surgery. 

Understanding the role of physical therapy for trigger finger

Physical therapists design tailored exercise programs to improve the range of motion in your affected finger. These exercises aim to strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. As the muscles in your fingers get stronger, you may notice increased flexibility and a reduced likelihood of triggering.

Manual physical therapies

Hands-on manual therapy, such as joint mobilization and soft tissue massage, can help release built-up tension and improve the overall function of your affected finger. Therapists use gentle techniques to alleviate stiffness and enhance mobility.


Physical therapy includes more than just manual therapies. It also includes tools like splints to help you find relief. 

Splinting helps to keep your affected finger in a neutral position, allowing your tendon to rest and heal. Splinting can be particularly beneficial during periods of increased inflammation.

Ultrasound therapy

Ultrasound therapy involves using sound waves to stimulate blood circulation and promote healing. This noninvasive method reduces inflammation.

Ergonomic adjustments

Your physical therapist also assesses your daily activities and recommends ergonomic adjustments to reduce strain on the affected finger. People who do a lot of heavy lifting and/or squeezing may be more prone to flare-ups, so modifying activities that contribute to triggering can help manage symptoms and support the healing process.

Other treatments to help with trigger finger

Physical therapy isn’t your only option. In fact, physical therapy can complement many other treatments, such as:

  • Medication to help fight inflammation
  • Steroid injections
  • Percutaneous release
  • Surgery

If exercises, medication, and injections alone aren’t enough to alleviate your symptoms, your Sequoia Institute for Surgical Services surgeon may suggest surgery. During surgery, your surgeon releases the A1 pulley (where your finger meets your palm) on your trigger finger to allow your tendon to slide easily.

Physical therapy can jumpstart your recovery

After your surgery, you can expect to wear a bandage for a few days to keep the incision site clean and dry. You can also expect some discomfort and swelling as part of the normal healing process. 

Physical therapy has a role while you heal, too. You may benefit from specific hand exercises as you recover. Your therapist can suggest the correct stretches and exercises for you.

Do you need help with trigger finger?

Trigger finger can be frustrating, but you don't have to deal with it alone.  If you’d like to explore your options here in Porterville, Reedley, or Visalia, California,  call the location of your choice or book your appointment online.