- What is Trigger Finger?
- Symptoms of Trigger Finger
- How to Treat Trigger Finger with Essential Oils
- Top 5 Essential Oils for Trigger Finger
- Other Natural Remedies for Trigger Finger
- Tips to Prevent Trigger Finger
- Final Thoughts
Trigger Finger is a condition that causes the fingers to bend or straighten suddenly, with pain and possible locking. It is primarily related to repetitive use of the hand. There are many treatments for this condition—including surgery, depending on the severity.
Many people have found that essential oils can help with the pain and inflammation associated with Trigger Finger to regain their mobility without taking medication.
However, essential oils for Trigger Finger should not replace medical treatment or advice. For example, if you suffer from severe pain that interferes with your daily activities, talk to your doctor first— especially if you notice redness, inflammation, or immobility.
What is Trigger Finger?
Trigger Finger, known by the medical term stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that causes the fingers to bend or straighten suddenly, with pain and possible locking. It is primarily related to repetitive use of the hand.
It can be triggered by cold, infection, or injury. Common causes include:
- Repeated gripping due to certain jobs or hobbies
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Complications from carpal tunnel surgery
It occurs when the tendon sheath—the thin layer of tissue surrounding every tendon in your body, including the ones in your fingers—becomes inflamed. This inflammation narrows the space within the sheath that surrounds the tendon in the affected finger. In severe cases, your finger may become locked in a bent position and unusable.
The most commonly affected fingers are the middle finger, ring finger, and little finger. It is common in older adults but can occur at any age.
Symptoms of Trigger Finger
The primary symptom of Trigger Finger is pain when bending and straightening the affected finger or thumb. This discomfort can present in a variety of ways:
- Finger stiffness at particular times of day
- Finger pops or clicks when moved
- A visible bump at the base of the finger
- Tenderness at the base of the finger
- Finger locked and immobilized in bent or straight position
- Finger suddenly popping from bent to straight position
How to Treat Trigger Finger with Essential Oils
Certain essential oils have analgesic (pain-relieving) and anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve Trigger Finger symptoms.
When applied topically, essential oils (and their healing properties) are absorbed through the skin, stimulating your cells’ receptors. Once activated, these receptors trigger a biochemical cascade of events that can reduce your inflammation and pain.
In conjunction with other therapies such as essential oil massage, aromatherapy, and oil compresses, the topical application of essential oils can provide significant relief.
Of course, we always recommend diluting essential oils with a carrier oil (e.g., coconut oil) before applying them to the skin. This is because essential oils are highly concentrated substances and can irritate the skin and cause redness and burning in many people.
It’s for this reason that we also strongly discourage ever ingesting essential oils. Doing so even in diluted form can harm your digestive system and overall health.
If your pain continues or worsens, consult a medical professional immediately to learn more about other treatment options.
Top 5 Essential Oils for Trigger Finger
1. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is known for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great essential oil to relieve pain and reduce swelling associated with Trigger Finger. It also has antiseptic properties that can help prevent infection from developing in the affected area.
Apply lavender essential oil topically by massaging 1-2 drops of diluted oil into the skin around the affected finger. The essential oil will quickly absorb into the skin, triggering natural compounds that reduce swelling and inflammation.
Reapply every 1-3 hours to maintain pain relief or as needed when symptoms become worse.
You can also add 3 drops of lavender essential oil to a cup of water in a hot bath (but not so hot that you cannot handle it). Soak for 20 minutes in order
2. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint is a powerful plant whose essential oil provides analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties to help relieve pain associated with Trigger Finger. Studies have also been found to have antioxidant and antiseptic properties, which promote faster healing of the affected area.
Massage 1-2 drops of diluted peppermint oil into the skin around the finger. Reapply every 2 hours or as needed when symptoms become worse.
You can also add a few drops of peppermint oil to warm water and soak your fingers in the mixture for 15-20 minutes.
3. Wintergreen Essential Oil
Wintergreen essential oil is a powerful analgesic that can help reduce pain associated with Trigger Finger. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which work to reduce swelling and inflammation of the affected area. This natural remedy may be an excellent option for those looking to avoid the potential side effects of prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications.
To use essential oil, massage 1-2 drops of wintergreen oil into the skin around the finger. Reapply every 2 hours to maintain pain relief, or more frequently as needed when symptoms become worse.
Wintergreen oil can also be used in a simple compress by adding 3 drops to 1 cup of water, then soaking a clean cloth in the mixture. Then, wrap or otherwise apply the cloth to the affected hand for 15-20 minutes for quick and efficient relief.
4. Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense essential oil has potent antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that make it a great essential oil for helping to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation of the tendon sheath associated with Trigger Finger. It’s also believed to have antioxidant capabilities, which can help speed the healing of the affected area.
Massage 1 drop of diluted frankincense oil into the skin around the finger and apply liberally to any other areas of inflammation. Reapply every 1-2 hours for pain relief or whenever symptoms become worse.
For a natural essential oil balm that’s easy to make at home, mix 3 drops of frankincense essential oil and coconut oil. Heat the essential oils in a double boiler or a small pan on the stove, then add 1 teaspoon of grated beeswax to the essential oils and stir until melted. Remove from heat, let cool for 5 minutes, then pour into a small glass container. Apply liberally to the affected hand 2-3 times daily.
5. Cedarwood Essential Oil
Cedarwood essential oil is a powerful essential oil that provides both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. It has also demonstrated pain-relieving properties that can help reduce the discomfort associated with Trigger Finger.
Most people find it beneficial to mix cedarwood essential oil with a carrier oil and rub the mixture directly onto the affected area. For example, mix 3 drops of cedarwood oil in 1 teaspoon of jojoba or coconut oil and massage it into your skin around the affected area.
Reapply the mixture every 2 hours for pain relief, or more frequently as needed when symptoms worsen.
You can also add a few drops of cedarwood to warm water and soak your fingers in the mixture for 15-20 minutes.
BONUS: Rocky Mountain Oils Nerve Support Blend
In addition to the single-origin oils covered above, we couldn’t print this list without mentioning Rocky Mountain Oils’ outstanding Nerve Support blend.
Nerve Support is a blend of these outstanding essential oils in a base of Fractionated Coconut Oil:
- Basil essential oil
- Helichrysum italicum essential oil
- Peppermint essential oil
- Marjoram essential oil
We think it’s the perfect blend for managing the symptoms of Trigger Finger because it combines anti-inflammatory essential oils to relieve inflammation and swelling, analgesic essential oils to help relieve pain, and essential oils to promote healing and reduce the potential for irritation.
Other Natural Remedies for Trigger Finger
Several at-home remedies can treat Trigger Finger before resorting to medication and surgery in combination with essential oils.
Rest and Aromatherapy
Resting your affected finger is essential to allow it to heal. You can rest in conjunction with aromatherapy by diffusing essential oils such as Lavender Oil or Frankincense Oil. These oils are known for their soothing effects on both mind and body, easing stress from the area affected by inflammation.
Essential Oil Massage
It can also be beneficial to massage the affected finger with essential oils. It is a natural pain reliever, but essential oils such as Lavender Oil may actually promote the healing of Trigger Finger by improving circulation and decreasing inflammation in the area. Applying heat or cold to the affected finger can also help reduce swelling and relieve pain.
Tips to Prevent Trigger Finger
As discussed above, there are several causes of Trigger Finger. While repetitive motions and stress bring on most cases, some can be unavoidable, resulting from diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, genetic predisposition, and side effects from carpal tunnel surgery.
That said, there are many preventative steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing this condition:
Wear a Wrist Splint
A wrist splint is a great preventative option for fending off Trigger Finger, especially if your job requires a lot of typing or repetitive finger work. Splints support your hand and prevent undue pressure and stress from being put on the affected tendons.
Take Breaks and Avoid Repetitive Movements
If possible, try to avoid repetitive movements and motions that put stress on your hands and fingers. For example, if you do many typing or have finger-intensive hobbies, take frequent breaks from making repetitive hand movements. Stretch out your hands, shake them out, and give your fingers a break whenever possible.
Practice Proper Posture and Ergonomics
Taking the above steps will go a long way toward preventing Trigger Finger, but it’s also essential to sit and work with proper posture and ergonomics. For example, keep your wrists supported when typing, especially if you’re the type who likes to get work done in the evenings or on the weekends when you’re away from a proper desk.
Avoid Cold Hands
Although the cold may not seem harmful, keeping your hands and fingers cold will actually increase the chances of getting Trigger Finger. Also, keep in mind that cold weather exacerbates carpal tunnel, so if you regularly hike or ski during cold seasons, keep an eye on how your hands are affected by it.
Trigger Finger is a painful and sometimes debilitating condition that affects the hands. It occurs when the protective tissue surrounding the tendons becomes inflamed. Inflammation makes the tendon sheath swell and get stuck in the finger joint.
Serious cases of Trigger Finger may require medication or even surgery to treat. However, using essential oils in conjunction with other treatments can help control the inflammation and relieve pain.
Each of the oils we’ve discussed in this article possesses analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that can help manage the pain and inflammation naturally on your road to recovery.
We always recommend using essential oils as a component of a broader treatment plan discussed between you and your doctor.