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Jonathan Cluett, M.D.

Do cortisone shots cure trigger finger?

By March 25, 2007

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Trigger finger is a condition that causes a painful snapping when trying to flex your finger (make a fist). A trigger finger is caused by a nodular swelling of the finger tendon, allowing this tendon to get stuck in the palm of the hand. The result is the characteristic snapping of the finger. In more severe cases, the trigger finger can actually become stuck down.

The first step in treatment of a trigger finger is often a cortisone injection. How helpful is a cortisone shot? A recent study looked at the available data for trigger fingers and cortisone injections and found that 57% of patients had effective treatment with the shot. Therefroe, albot half of patients got better after the injection.

Related: What is a trigger finger? | How many cortisone injections can I have?

References:

Comments
March 1, 2012 at 7:53 pm
(1) Cleopatra says:

I got a cortisone shot yesterday in my hand to relieve my trigger finger. Today my hand is worse ! I hope I feel better soon because it is difficult to do anything without the use of one hand.

May 24, 2012 at 9:52 am
(2) denise says:

I had a shot yesterday for my trigger thumb and I’m in more pain today. I wished all this was on my left hand since I’m right handed.

July 25, 2012 at 4:28 am
(3) Jan says:

I had a shot yesterday for my trigger thumb and it does feel much better this morning, tho the swelling is still there. If the shot relieves it, I’m wondering what the chances are that it will return.

August 17, 2012 at 8:49 pm
(4) eve says:

I got an injection for my trigger finger today,but my finger is still numb. I don’t have pain but how long will the numbness last.

August 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm
(5) Sue West says:

l have had 3 trigger fingers 2 shots in ring finger and all is good now one shot in middle finger and index finger not as good , so going today to see if 1 more shot in each will give me the relief l so want, hopefully this many shots will be O K as l DONT want any surgery….

October 9, 2012 at 11:02 am
(6) Dr.Muhammad Abul Hossain says:

I had a cortisone injection 18 days back. My finger swelled and my condition worsened. My pain increased manifold. As usual, Doc gave me pain killer and few exercises. My condition remains same. What should I dp now?

January 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm
(7) Kathy says:

Mine is a question? I have trigger finger in my opinion really bad it is to the point I have pain shooting up my arm and it wakes me up all through the night. Is there anything I can do to make some of the pain go away besides go to my surgeon. I do not believe in Cortisone shots because all that does is pro long the problem. So does the surgery really work or is there other ways to cure this? Hope someone can give me some suggestions.

February 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm
(8) krenee says:

Cortisone shots do not prolong the problem. If they work, which they do in 50-70% of patients, they work by decreasing the swelling in the tendon sheath and alleviating the swelling of whatever damage was done to the tendon and the nodule that forms. I just saw doc today after 2 months of a variety of home treatments – none of which worked. He is a very reputable ortho surgeon and he said essentially, the saying goes among ortho docs that only steel will help trigger finger. Either the shots or the scalpel.

February 8, 2013 at 10:59 pm
(9) Nina says:

Kathy…

I had trigger finger in my left middle finger several years ago. After two cortisone shots that did not do much, a third shot finally did the trick. The last shot was very different from the first two… when the numbness started to wear off, I had all kinds of pain in that hand for several hours (hot, cold, stinging, pulsing, burning, etc.).

The cortisone kept the trigger finger completely at bay for a couple of years. When it returned, I had the quick and easy surgery. My doctor told me it could take up to nine months for the symptoms to completely resolve and he was right on the money. The pain was gone, but there was still some minor locking.

If you don’t want to waste time with cortisone shots, the surgery is very effective but you need to be patient while it completely heals.

Now, I have the same problem in my right middle and ring fingers. Got cortisone shots last week and there has not been any improvement in the ring finger. I go back to my ortho doctor in a month and, because I also have carpal tunnel in my right wrist, will most likely just go ahead with the surgery on my right hand (two trigger finger releases and the carpal tunnel fix).

February 8, 2013 at 11:24 pm
(10) Nina says:

Kathy, one more thing. I’ve had and have REALLY bad trigger finger, but have never had pain shoot up my arm or wake me up at night. My carpal tunnel woke me up at night with severe pain in my fingers. Felt like a truck was parked on my hand. I now wear a wrist brace at night and have not had further problems.

I’d suggest you see a doctor to determine if you have something else going on with that hand/arm.

April 9, 2013 at 8:21 pm
(11) Sandi says:

The only cure for trigger finger is surgery. The shots MAY work for a while, but it won’t cure it. The surgery is easy and relief almost immediate. I went to a new doc today, who gave injection and says this may last 3 months. I am not hopeful at all. Had the surgery on my thumb last year and no more pain. I will opt for the surgery again on this after a few days when the shot will not work.

May 19, 2013 at 8:50 pm
(12) Joe says:

Had 3 Shot at VA and it sure didn’t help one bit.

May 30, 2013 at 9:54 am
(13) Ursula says:

I waited a year and a half before getting a cortisone shot for my trigger finger and 9 months later I am still in excruciating pain (from the shot) and the finger still catches and when it does the pain is so bad I think I’m going to die, There is no way I will get a second shot for this – I’d rather cut my finger off. I’ve immobilized the finger for the past 4 days and that has helped somewhat, however, the pain on an around the injection site is still horrible.

Several years ago I had a trigger finger in my other hand and 2 cortisone shots did the trick – no pain afterwards.

June 1, 2013 at 6:04 pm
(14) Sally says:

I had problems with my left hand for more than 7 months. Started with a trigger thumb then all my fingers stiff couldn’t make a fist, therapy has done wonders but my tingling still on, pain sometimes. Three doctors has told me comes from high sugars levels. Diabetes .the swelling went away after using hot water therapy every day, 4 minutes in hot water, one minute in 60 degrees water, three minutes in hot water, one minute 60 degrees water…….next 2 and 1, next 1 and 1.comput has many exercises to do after this water therapy

August 28, 2013 at 9:26 am
(15) Harlan says:

I had injured my right index finger about 11 months ago by jamming it into a door. Anyway, I might have waited too long after injuring it to get my 1st corticosteroid injection (i.e. 7 months). That injection didn’t help much. The clicking seemed to subside for a short time and then it resumed along with the pain at the base of my finger in the hand area. What seems to keep aggravating it is stressing the finger by using it to lift things or repetitive grip things, like suitcases as I do for my constant travels. Now, I have had a 2nd injection about 6 – 7 weeks later from the 1st one. This one seems to make it behaving even better. It still seems as I’ve noticed an occasional click but pain has subsided significantly. Verdicts is out on this one. Patiently waiting. I’d rather NOT have the release surgery done if I don’t have to. We’ll see. I think that a couple key things might be, 1) don’t wait too long to see a doctor about the 1st injection, 2) try to really NOT stress the injury or condition that’s causing your symptoms. Everyone’s different though. Its just my take on it, and my conditions. I don’t think that these resolve on their own and I can’t imagine PT does much for these. Its an annoying painful condition to have to live with. Surgery might be the only other option.

August 29, 2013 at 3:07 pm
(16) Esther benady says:

Esther had a a cortisone injection today for my trigger finger & it feels completely numb . Had one in 2011 on the same finger & it as lasted till now. I don’t remember my finger feeling so numb last time. Can anyone advise me please thanks

August 29, 2013 at 3:09 pm
(17) Esther benady says:

Esther had a a cortisone injection today for my trigger finger & it feels completely numb . Had one in 2011 on the same finger & it as lasted till now. I don’t remember my finger feeling so numb last time. Can anyone advise me please thanks

I have not commented on this subject before

September 6, 2013 at 6:56 pm
(18) Leigh says:

Had shots in both ring fingers (left and right hand) yesterday at 2.30pm, no pain during/immediately after, but today they ached all day – pain killers throughout the day (couter variety) has helped, but they feel almost worse than before the procedure. Palms are bruised mildly, injection site is tender on both hands. Will update in week or so.

September 11, 2013 at 4:37 pm
(19) Renee says:

I just got a cortisone shot about an hour ago in my thumb. The injection site is sore a little. Doctor told me to use the finger as usual, it’s still clicking a little. I guess I need to give it some time. My injury was 7 weeks old. It seemed to be getting a little better on it’s own, but still had problems gripping like I should. To be continued…….

September 22, 2013 at 11:56 am
(20) enelsen says:

I have trigger thumb. It had been about 3to 4 months before I decided to see a doctor. It had been getting worse every day. The doctor gave me a cortizone shot and told me the shot has a numbing medicine in it so my thumb would be numb for a bit and it was for about 2 hours maybe. The doc said I wouldn’t feel a difference for atleast a few days maybe a week and he was right after a week I began to feel a little less pain and clicking. It has now been a month my joint is tender toward the top part of my thumb and only clicks now when I have either been sleeping or resting my hand for a period of time. It has not completely healed so ill give it some more time before seeing the doctor again.

November 5, 2013 at 9:14 am
(21) Debra says:

I have trigger thumb and had a cortisone injection which relieved the pain after a few day,s and was pain free for about 4 months. Pain came back a few days ago, and I’m ready for my next shot!

January 13, 2014 at 10:04 pm
(22) Terry says:

The physician said to me “You have a rare trigger finger” in that it is the small finger on the non-dominate hand. The physician said he would only give one steroid injection and that if the finger does not respond then surgery would be the only option. That was six months ago. Finger responded well. I told the physician that if it returns that surgery is not an option for me for something so trivial. My finger was more annoying than painful. I’ll be fine!

January 27, 2014 at 10:03 pm
(23) Christine says:

I had a cortisone on my left trigger thumb 4 hours ago. I am a massage therapist and need my thumbs for work. The thumb is still a little numb and especially the top part of my thumb. It is usually flexible by now, a few hours of moving it normally in the morning and I don’t really notice it, it comes good when i work and stiffens again when i don’t, extremely painful the first time it bends. It’s still very clicky, I do hope it loosens up soon. I guess the next question is, if it is operated on, what is the recovery time?

February 18, 2014 at 9:57 am
(24) V. Reed says:

I had a cortisone injection in December 2013. It’s now February 2014 and my finger still hurts and locks. This is taking forever to heal.

February 26, 2014 at 12:19 pm
(25) marty cole says:

i have trigger finger in my thumb i have a major fear of needles…i am so afraid to get a shot. after reading the stories i;m really afraid. what should i do?

February 26, 2014 at 11:23 pm
(26) Hailey says:

I got my first cortisone shot this Tuesday just gone, I’ve had my trigger finger for around a year never really paid attention to it, now my finger is locking up more then it was before and starting to really annoy me, gets fully stuck till I have to pull it open then it just happens all over again :( the joys lol

March 23, 2014 at 5:56 am
(27) KB says:

First shot a week ago. Shot not to bad, feesl like your finger is blowing up like a balloon then a slight pain like a bee sting and its over.
Doc said give it 2 weeks if not better in 1 month, he can do a simple slit in the office and it will move right away. Any treatment is better than having a finger in pain and not able to close or gets stuck.
Don’t be aftaid and don’t wait

March 27, 2014 at 12:46 am
(28) syd says:

I am a surgeon myself and have had six trigger fingers. Injection does work for some individuals who are seen early in the course of the problem and it is worth injecting once. The injection needs to be done correctly. I recommend a hand surgeon, not your GP. When the injection is done properly, you will feel filling of the tendon sheath out into the finger. It hurts, but that is the only way to obtain long term relief, short of surgery. If the problem recurs, open release by operation is the best treatment with no significant down time. I have gone back to work in one to two days with no real limitations. The post op pain is minimal in my experience.

April 24, 2014 at 1:55 pm
(29) Carolee1945 says:

I thought I had arthritis at the base of my thumb, but then we found I had trigger thumb too. The OT said the cortisone is the first thing they do. I am terrified, but I have not been able to cook, garden, make jewelry, all the things I love. It is depressing to lose your thumb because you cannot use your hands for much. I will report back here.

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