This is a condition that affects the pulleys and tendons that are responsible for bending your fingers. It causes a painful ‘catching’ or ‘locking’ of the fingers or thumb as the tendon catches on the pulley. Ongoing damage every time the tendon ‘catches’ leads to further irritation and swelling. The finger may be difficult to bend (or straighten) and may even become locked in a fixed position.
If the triggering is mild and not affecting your function, you may choose a more conservative approach to gain relief.
This may involve such treatments as:
- 6 weeks of splinting
- Finger exercises
- Lifestyle modifications
- Oral anti-inflammatories
- Steroidal injections into the area affected
For moderate to severe triggering, or if you were unsuccessful with conservative treatment, then a trigger finger release is usually required. A small incision is made at the base of the affected finger and the pulley is released. The cut is stitched, usually with self-dissolving stitches, and a light dressing applied.
A trigger finger release is usually performed under a general anaesthetic, as a day-case. Your hand will have a dressing on it, and you will have to keep it dry for a week or so. You may need some simple analgesia for the first few days.
It is encouraged that you start moving your finger almost immediately after surgery. You should be able to return to normal activities as soon as you feel comfortable.
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Recovery usually takes a few weeks with full range of motion and grip strength returning in this time. You may be required to undergo hand therapy to aid in your healing and rehabilitation.
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Meet the Experts
Dr Rohit Kumar is an Australian trained and fully certified cosmetic plastic and reconstructive surgeon.
Dr Kumar completed his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree in 1995 at the University of Queensland. He subsequently went on to successfully complete a Masters Degree in the field of Burns Surgery in 2004 – MMedSci (Burns)
His advanced surgical training commenced in the specialty of General Surgery in which he trained for four years. This gave him a solid foundation of technical knowledge and surgical perspective upon which he then built his considerable skills, once he commenced his advanced training in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The Australasian training scheme in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is one of the most thorough and rigorous in the world and upon successful completion of this training, over a period of ten years, Dr Kumar was awarded his Fellowship in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – FRACS (Plas).
He thus brings over 15 years of surgical experience to his practice having been involved in over ten thousand procedures in that time.
If you require a trigger finger release, then it is important that you are informed of the potential risks, complications and side effects of this surgery.
While all care is taken to minimise or totally avoid these complications and side effects, complications may and do occur despite the best medical care. It is important that you carefully read and understand the risk factors and they will be discussed in more detail when you have your consultation with your surgeon.
The Risks include…
- Injury to the flexor tendon to the finger
- Injury to the digital nerve to the finger
- Incomplete release requiring further surgery