Tendonitis is an inflammation (swelling) of a tendon. Pain limits your ability to bend and straighten your finger or thumb. Tendonitis is often caused by repeated movement that inflames the tendon. Trigger finger and De Quervain’s are two types of tendonitis.

Trigger Finger

Trigger finger is a problem with a tendon that helps move the finger or thumb. You may notice pain and swelling. As it gets worse, the tendon may lock (get stuck) when you try to straighten your finger. When the tendon releases, the finger jumps, as if releasing the trigger of a gun. This further irritates the tendon, and may set up a cycle of locking and swelling.


You may simply be asked to rest and ice your finger or thumb and use medicines such as aspirin. A splint is sometimes needed. You may be given injections of anti-inflammatories, such as cortisone. If you need surgery, a small piece of the tendon sheath is cut to make room for the swollen tendon to move. This allows the finger to straighten.

De Quervain’s

De Quervain’s affects the thumb and the wrist. The tendon either becomes inflamed or tightens, preventing normal movement. Common symptoms include pain and tenderness on the thumb side of the wrist. You may also feel a small “knot” or pain when you grasp things, turn your wrist, or make a fist. The thumb may also “catch” when you bend it.


Taking a break from whatever movement caused the problem may be enough. Your doctor may have you take medicines such as aspirin to reduce swelling. You may wear a splint for a few weeks. Your doctor may also inject an anti-inflammatory, such as cortisone, around the tendons. If surgery is needed, the affected tendon sheath is cut to allow space for the tendon to move. This allows the thumb to move without pain.