Surgical Information

Trigger Finger Release

What is trigger finger release surgery?

Trigger finger – also known as stenosing tenosynovitis – is inflammation of the tendons in your fingers or thumb. It limits movement and may cause pain, popping or a catching feeling when you straighten your finger. In extreme cases, your finger may become stuck in a bent position.

Trigger finger release is a surgical procedure to widen the opening of the tendon sheath tunnel so the tendon can glide through it more easily, and prevent permanent stiffness. The surgeon makes a small incision in the palm and cuts the tight portion of the tendon sheath. When it heals, the sheath is looser and the tendon has more room to move through it. Trigger finger release is an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. Patients return home the same day.

Anatomy

Tendons work like long ropes connecting the muscles of the forearm with the bones of the fingers and thumb. A tendon usually slides easily through the sheath that covers it, but if inflammation develops, the sheath becomes constricted, causing the finger to snap or pop when straightened.

When is surgery recommended?

If you have finger pain, popping or catching, or if your finger is stuck in a bent position, and all non-surgical methods of treatment – including splinting, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and injectable corticosteroids – have failed to alleviate your symptoms, surgery may be necessary.

It is important you are carefully evaluated by an orthopaedic surgeon to determine the best course of action.

What is the recovery time?

Following surgery, most people are able to move their fingers immediately. Normal use of the hand can usually be resumed once comfort permits. Some patients may feel tenderness, discomfort and swelling around the area of their surgery longer than others. In cases where the finger was quite stiff before surgery, post-operative physical therapy and finger exercises may be necessary to help loosen it up. As with all surgical procedures, specific recovery time varies by patient and demand.

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