Orthopaedic Conditons & Treatments

Trigger Finger Release Surgery and Treatment

Trigger finger release surgery corrects certain cases of trigger finger, a condition that causes your fingers or thumbs to snap or pop when they are extended or bent. Trigger finger can occur when the tendons that control your fingers and thumbs are swollen and inflamed. When tendons are inflamed or swollen, they can't move easily within their protective tendon sheath. Cramped for room, the tendon snaps or pops as it pushes through tight band in the sheath, called a pulley,  and causes pain where the fingers and thumb meet the palm of the hand. In severe cases, the finger or thumb becomes stuck, or locked, and unable to move back into position.

Trigger finger release surgery widens the opening of the tight tendon sheaths, by dividing the small band, called a pulley, to give the tendons enough space to move and properly control the digits of the hand. If you have a severe case of trigger finger or if nonsurgical treatments have not been effective, your doctor may recommend surgery to relieve your pain and restore normal movements to your fingers or thumbs. Your doctor can diagnose your problem without x-rays by simply examining your hand and speaking with you about your symptoms.

Nonsurgical Treatments for Trigger Finger
Before committing to trigger finger release surgery, your doctor will most likely recommend other trigger finger treatments or exercises in order to relieve swelling, pressure or pain. Treatments can include:

  • Steroid Injections – Powerful anti-inflammatory steroids can be injected directly into the tendon sheath to relieve pain and pressure. Steroid injections will succeed in relieving triggering in more than 50% of cases if you receive treatment within 4 months after triggering first begins. When you wait longer than 4 months the chances for correcting the condition are not as good. Sometimes this type of treatment for trigger finger will only be a temporary solution, especially if you've had symptoms of trigger finger for a long time. Your physician may recommend surgery if two steroid injections fail to permanently relieve your symptoms.
  • Rest – If symptoms are mild, simply resting the finger for an extended period of time could resolve the issues you are experiencing.
  • Anti-inflammatory Drugs – Aspirin, ibuprofen and other nonprescription painkillers can be taken in order to ease the pain.

What to Expect After Trigger Finger Release Surgery

The length of your recovery time depends on the severity of your condition as well as the prescribed post-operative treatment. Exercising your fingers to regain range of motion is very important. If you have difficulty getting good movement back, then your doctor may prescribe hand therapy. Even if you have difficulty in the beginning after an operation, most patients recover from trigger finger release in two weeks by resting, doing presecribed hand therapy, limiting overuse of the affected hand and using anti-inflammatory medications.