What is trigger finger release surgery?

A trigger finger is a condition experienced as a locking or clicking finger or thumb when flexed and extended. This is due to the tendon being too big for the sheath within the finger or thumb, creating pain and often a tender nodule at the site of triggering. Trigger finger release surgery aims to release this sheath that acts as a pulley, allowing the tendon to glide smoothly.

Who does this procedure suit?

Trigger finger or thumb is a common condition that can affect anyone. It can develop in those who use their hands for repetitive actions or in those with rheumatoid arthritis. This procedure is suitable for those where their trigger finger or thumb hasn’t responded to steroid injections or other treatments.

What results will I expect?

Most patients experience immediate improvement in their symptoms although this varies between patients. In the vast majority of patients, results are often life-long however very occasionally some patients may having recurring symptoms a few years after surgery.

What’s the first step to take?

During your first consultation your surgeon will discuss what you’d like to achieve, any expectations you have, questions about the procedure, medical history and current medication. Your surgeon will perform a detailed clinical examination to confirm the diagnosis prior to surgery. We will provide as much information as possible so that you feel comfortable and informed.

How do I prepare for surgery?

Please ensure you have arranged someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out at home for a few days. To reduce risk of bleeding and bruising please make sure to:

  • Avoid aspirin (or similar) and Vitamin E two weeks before surgery. Panadol, and vitamins B and C are safe to use.
  • Inform your surgeon if you take any herbal medicines that may affect clotting and the anesthetic.
  • Avoid smoking before and after surgery so as not to restrict circulation to the area and delay healing. Giving up altogether is best.
  • Inform us immediately if you’ve had any infection (cold or flu) the week before your surgery.

What happens on the day of my surgery?

We will guide you to prepare for surgery so that your procedure and recovery go smoothly.

 

    If your procedure is in the morning – do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before.

  • If your procedure is in the afternoon – do not eat or drink anything after 8.00am.

What should I expect during surgery?

Trigger finger release surgery is performed under a light sedation with local anesthetic. You will be very comfortable and experience no pain during the surgery.

During the procedure, an incision is made over the base of the finger, the nerves are carefully protected while the pulley is divided to release the tendon. The tendon is then checked to ensure it is gliding with no triggering. The incision is sutured and dressings applied. This procedure takes approximately 15-20 minutes and you will be able to go home a few hours after.

What should I expect after surgery?

  • Your hand will be in a bulky bandage with a sling to wear at home. You may notice some bruising which will fade in 4-5 days.
  • Local anesthetic is used at the end of the procedure so that you have pain relief for the following 6-8 hours.
  • Some discomfort is normal for the first few days, which is easily relieved with oral analgesics. Keeping the hand elevated in a sling for 2 days will also help settle the pain.
  • A follow up appointment will be made 7-10 days after to assess that the wound has healed well and to remove any sutures. If necessary, we will refer you a see our hand therapist for any recovery needed.
  • After 2 weeks your hand can be used for light duties and return to heavier activities after 4-6 weeks. Your surgeon or hand therapist will guide you.

What are the risks and complications with this procedure?

As with any surgery there are some risks involved such as:

  • Infection, excessive bleeding or bruising
  • Nerve injury (less than 1%)

Please call our office if you experience any of the following: excessive pain or bleeding, abnormal swelling or fever during the first 24 hours.