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Finger Release

Trigger Finger

Trigger finger is a painful and hindering condition that causes your finger or thumb to catch or lock when in a bent position. Your finger or thumb may straighten with a snap, like a trigger being pulled and released.

What is trigger finger?

Trigger finger, also called stenosing tenosynovitis or sticky fingers, is a common condition where the tendons in your hand become swollen or irritated and/or the tendon sheath thickens. This can cause the tendon sheath tunnel to narrow and become constricting. As your tendon can’t glide through the sheath easily, your finger catches in a bent position before popping straight. With each catch, your tendon becomes more irritated and inflamed making the problem worse.

Often the cause of trigger finger is not known. The risk of trigger finger is greater in people with certain medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. Repetitive and strong gripping actions may lead to trigger finger.

What are the symptoms of a trigger finger?

An early symptom of trigger finger is often a soreness at the base of your finger or thumb where it joins your palm. Trigger finger may cause you pain when bending or straightening your affected finger or thumb. Your trigger digit may click during movement or lock in a bent position, sometimes needing to be straightened with your other hand. You may also feel a lump in the palm of your hand.

What does a trigger finger treatment involve?

Trigger finger may be resolved using conservative treatments such as: anti-inflammatory medication to decrease the swelling and reduce your pain, splinting to reduce movement and give your tendon time to rest and, steroid injections to reduce your swelling.

If your trigger finger does not respond to these treatments, your hand specialist may recommend trigger finger release surgery to widen your tendon sheath tunnel.

Trigger finger release surgery typically takes just 20 minutes and is performed on an outpatient basis under local anaesthetic.

There are two types of trigger finger release surgery. Your hand surgeon will discuss these in detail.

Open trigger finger release surgery is often the preferred choice. It involves your hand surgeon making a small cut in your palm and then carefully cutting through the tendon sheath to make it wider. 

Percutaneous trigger finger release surgery involves inserting a needle into the base of your affected trigger finger or thumb and slicing through your ligament using the needle.

Recovery after a trigger finger treatment

You may feel some pain or soreness following your trigger release surgery and over the counter painkillers should help relieve this.

You should be able to move your fingers immediately after surgery.

If you’ve had open surgery you will need to keep a dressing on your finger for a few days.

You may be advised to do finger exercises to help loosen your finger. Our experienced physiotherapists can help with this.

You should follow your surgeon’s advice about returning to work, driving and, other everyday activities. Typically, recovery can take a few weeks.

You may have some swelling and stiffness for up to six months.

Trigger finger treatment with Clifton Park Hospital

If you are suffering from trigger finger you can rest assured that you will receive the very best care delivered by our experienced and qualified team of hand experts in our Centre of Excellence for Orthopaedics.

We can offer convenient and rapid appointments to see a hand surgeon or physiotherapist in the first instance. We will then provide you with detailed information on the recommended next steps to a pain free finger and/or thumb that no longer locks. 

Contact us to book an appointment. 

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