Trigger thumb factsheet


Trigger thumb is a condition where the thumb in babies and young children develops into a bent shape and stays in that position. It is not present at birth, and the cause is not known.

Trigger thumbs do not generally prevent children from using their hands.

 Signs and symptoms

If your child has trigger thumb, they may have:

  • a popping or clicking sound, and it “catches” when they move their thumb
  • a thumb that is locked in a bent position.

Your child may also have:

  • a bump on the palm side of their thumb, near the base
  • pain and swelling in their thumb, usually near the base.


Your child’s doctor will be able to make a diagnosis based on their signs and symptoms, a physical examination and/or after any appropriate tests.


The majority of trigger thumbs will straighten on their own without treatment. Splints or taping your child’s thumb will not help in most cases. If your child still has a trigger thumb when they are 18 months old, or complains of pain, or is not using their hand properly, your child may need surgery.



After the age of 18 months, surgical treatment may be recommended to straighten your child’s thumb.

After the age of 4 years, a period of night splinting after surgery usually corrects the trigger thumb.

Keeping a photographic record

A photographic record of the progress of your child’s trigger thumb may be helpful, to see if there have been any changes over a period of time.

Difference between trigger thumb and trigger finger

Trigger thumb should not be confused with a trigger finger. A trigger finger is a rare condition that is generally present at birth and is often linked to other disorders. A child with a trigger finger should be referred to a plastic or orthopaedic surgeon with a special interest in paediatric hand surgery.

Last updated Monday 29th January 2024


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024