Trigger Finger


Senior Member
No - It's not the name of a band!
I've been extremely forunate that after playing for approximately 35 years that I haven't had any injuries that hinder my playing. Recently however, I've developed something called "Trigger Finger" in one of my fingers. The best way to describe how it feels is as follows; when you close your hands and go to open up your fingers, one finger sort of "snaps" into the open position. It's not terribly painful mind you, but it is irritating. Has anyone had this before? I understand that it can get worse and potentially more painful. I can always get a cortisone shot in that finger, but that isn't a long-term solution. I'm just curious how other drummers that have this get along with it. I sort of ignore it while playing and I haven't had to change my technique to date.


Senior Member
No replies? Has anyone heard of this before? Maybe you show some symptoms and don't know what it is or it's causes. Here's some info and the symptoms to look out for. Sorry for the length, but it might help someone in the future!

By Mayo Clinic staff

Trigger finger is a condition in which one of your fingers or your thumb catches in a bent position. Your finger or thumb may straighten with a snap — like a trigger being pulled and released. If trigger finger is severe, your finger may become locked in a bent position.

Often painful, trigger finger is caused by a narrowing of the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. People whose work or hobbies require repetitive gripping actions are more susceptible. Trigger finger is also more common in women than in men, and in anyone with diabetes.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Symptoms of trigger finger may progress in the following way:

At first, your affected finger may seem stiff and may click when you move it. You may notice a bump (nodule) or tenderness at the base of the affected finger in your palm. This is the spot where the tendon is likely catching.
As trigger finger worsens, your finger may catch at times in a bent position and then suddenly pop straight.
Eventually, the finger may not fully straighten.
Trigger finger more commonly occurs in your dominant hand, and most often affects your thumb or your middle or ring finger. More than one finger may be affected at a time, and both hands might be involved. Triggering is usually more pronounced in the morning, while firmly grasping an object or when straightening your finger.

Risk factors
By Mayo Clinic staff

Repetitious gripping. If you routinely grip an item — such as a power tool or musical instrument — for extended periods of time, you may be more prone to the development of a trigger finger.

Treatments and drugs
By Mayo Clinic staff

Trigger finger treatment varies depending on its severity and duration.

Treatment of mild cases
For mild or infrequent symptoms, these approaches may be effective:

Rest. You may notice improvement simply by resting the affected hand for four to six weeks. To prevent the overuse of your affected finger, your doctor may also suggest you change or curtail work or personal activities that require repeated gripping actions.
Splinting. Your doctor may have you wear a splint to keep the affected finger in an extended position for up to six weeks. The splint helps to rest the joint. Splinting also helps prevent you from curling your fingers into a fist while sleeping, which can make it painful to move your fingers in the morning.
Finger exercises. Your doctor may also suggest that you perform gentle exercises with the affected finger. This can help you to maintain mobility in your finger.
Avoiding repetitive gripping. For at least three to four weeks, avoid activities that require repetitive gripping, repeated grasping or the prolonged use of vibrating machinery.
Soaking in warm water. Placing your affected hand in warm water, especially in the morning, may reduce the severity of the catching sensation during the day. If this helps, you can repeat the soaking several times throughout the day.
Massage. Massaging your affected fingers may feel good and help relieve your pain, but it won't affect the inflammation.


I had this after I was on crutches for 4 months. My fingers were so used to gripping the crutch bars all day that they would sometimes "lock" in that position until I snapped them unhinged. I never knew what it was called though.

Perhaps try and loosen up your grip a bit. I can only imagine getting this from drumming means that you might have a really tight grip on the stick.

Mine went away after a couple months of being off the crutches, and I would try and stretch out the effected fingers multiple times each day.

Old Doc Yak

Senior Member
My thumbs do this all the time. But I'm 72 and have some arthritis in both hands. I've just gone back to drums after a 50-year layoff so I have to use a little different technique. Warm water seems to help. Flexing the fingers with finger exercises will help keep them limber. Good luck.


Junior Member
I got trigger finger after disconnecting my garden hose this past summer (end July). Saw Dr end of August. My DR said it was probably the "torque" action that caused the initial swelling. I used Epsom salt soaks and tylenol for about 4 weeks with no lifting at the gym. It just continued to get worse. I had stopped drumming during this period. When a couple more months went by and the swelling went down, my middle finger of my left hand would stick in the mornings. I tried a vibrator massage on the joint once but that only made it worse. (DR said no vibrations). When I went back to the doctor after 3 1/2 months he said we could try a cortisone shot, which was one of the most painful things I have ever gone through and I have a high tolerance for pain. After the shot, you have to wait 14-21 days for the inflammation to go down, which it did. My dr said this works for a full cure about 80% of the time. On Dec 2, I started rehearsing again and was tearing down and putting up my drumset weekly. I had a NYeve gig so we had reahearsals Dec 23, 29 & 31. New Years Day and the day after my finger was swollen again and it has continued to get worse, to where today, Jan 7, my finger is getting stuck again. I will update my progress but wanted to post and see other drummers posts concerning this painful nuisance. I can only guess that I may have sprained the tendon either taking down the cymbal stands or lifting the equipment (using the grip muscles and tendons of the fingers). In the beginning, I don't think it is the playing as I was rehearsing four hours and had no pain or inflammation the day after the initial rehearsals. Or the steroid has worn off and I will need another shot.


Pioneer Member
I'd go see a hand specialist about it myself. I learned about it a year and a half ago when I had to have surgery to repair a badly broken wrist. I started getting it in my thumb, mine would just catch and click at the joint but there was no swelling.