Mr Omar Tillo
Consultant Plastic Surgeon
Trigger finger is a condition which impacts the tendons in the hand. This can result in feelings of pain, stiffness, or clicking when you try to bend or straighten your fingers or thumb.
The tendons in the hand are covered by a protective sheath. The sheath produces a small amount of fluid, which keeps the tendons lubricated.
Trigger finger happens when there is inflammation or swelling in the tendons or sheath. The tendon stops being able to easily slide through the sheath and in some cases can bunch up. This causes problems when you try to bend and straighten your fingers and thumbs. Clicking in the finger occurs when the tendon is caught in the sheath.
Currently, there is no specific cause for trigger finger. It can occur in people of both genders and all ages. However, it is more likely to occur in women, those over 40 years old, and those with certain medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes.
There are numerous treatment options for trigger finger. For some people, symptoms will go away on their own. For others, you will need to try non-surgical and surgical treatment options. These include:
If you have tried these options and they have not worked, or you are looking for a longer lasting solution, you may wish to consider trigger finger surgery.
You will be considered a good candidate for trigger finger surgery if you:
If left untreated, trigger finger can result in fingers which are stuck in a bent position.
Prior to undergoing surgery, you will have a consultation with one of the surgeons, who will assess your hand and see if you are eligible for surgery.
Prior to having trigger finger surgery, you will be given a local anaesthetic. You will be awake throughout the procedure but will be unable to feel anything.
There are two different types of surgery for trigger finger. These are:
Open trigger finger release surgery: the surgeon will make an incision in the palm of your hand. The surgeon will then cut through the tendon sheath, making it wider. This will give the fingers freedom of movement again. The skin is then pulled over the incision and stitched shut.
Percutaneous trigger finger release surgery: this option does not involve any incisions. Instead, a needle will be inserted into the finger which will go through the ligament to cut the tendon. This option means you will not have any wounds or scars, as it doesn’t involve incisions. However, this option is risky, as the sheath and tendon is close to nerves and arteries which can easily be damaged. Due to this reason, open trigger finger release surgery is generally the preferred method of surgery.
You should notice you will be able to move your finger straight after surgery. However, it may take up to two weeks to gain a full range of movement.
You may feel some pain and discomfort in your palm, which should pass after two weeks.
You will have to avoid driving for at least three to five days, or until you feel safe to resume driving.
You will need to avoid any sporting and physical activities, particularly sport which require gripping, for two to three weeks, or until the wound is healing.
How much time you will need to take off work will vary. If you have an office job you may not need to take any time off work. If you have a physically demanding job, you may need to take four or more days off work.
Recovery may be longer if surgery was undertaken on multiple fingers.
Trigger finger is a condition which affects the tendons in the hand. This can make bending or straightening the fingers difficult or can cause a clicking sensation. This can also cause you to experience physical pain.
For some people, trigger finger will go away by itself, without the need for any treatment.
You may need to take anti-inflammatory medication, wear a splint for extra wrist support, or have steroid injections.
If these options do not help, you may wish to undergo trigger finger surgery.
Trigger finger surgery will be performed under a local anaesthetic.
There are two options for trigger finger surgery.
Open trigger finger release surgery involves making an incision in the palm of the hand. The surgeon is then able to cut through the tendon sheath, making it wider. The incision is then stitched shut.
Percutaneous trigger finger release surgery is another option. This option does not involve any incisions, but rather uses a needle in the finger which goes through the ligament to get to the tendon.
This option may seem preferable as it does not involve having a scar. However, this option is far riskier, as the arteries and nerves are close to the tendon and risk becoming damaged. Because of this reason, the open trigger finger release surgery is the option which is most popular.
You will be able to move your fingers right away. It may take up to two weeks until you regain full movement in your fingers.
Pain and discomfort in the palm may last for up to two weeks while the wound is healing.
The recovery period will be longer if you had surgery on multiple fingers.
If you have an office job, you may not need to take any time off work, however, we do not recommend going to work the same day as the procedure.
If you have a physically intensive job, you may need to take four days or longer off work.
You should avoid driving for three to five days. Make sure you feel safe driving and performing emergency stops before you begin driving again.
You should avoid exercise, particularly sport which involves gripping, for two to three weeks, or until the wound is healed.