Trigger finger (or thumb) is a common condition characterised by a painful clicking or triggering sensation felt at the base of a finger as you try straighten it from a flexed position. Triggering occurs when your flexor tendons get caught under the flexor sheath (a group of pulleys or slings that hold your tendon down onto the bone).
This often starts out as a nuisance but can become quite painful over time and eventually be a cause of significant disability. In severe cases, the finger can become locked in a flexed down position, requiring the use of the other hand to unlock the digit.
Initial non-operative treatment may involve the use of anti-inflammatories, activity modification and sometimes a guided steroid injection around the tendon. For more severe cases or if these measure prove ineffective, surgery should be considered.
Surgery for Trigger Finger
Surgery for trigger finger is relatively simple and can be one of the most immediately satisfying hand procedures to perform. The procedure involves releasing the first part or leading edge of the flexor sheath so that the tendons no longer get caught up in this location. By carefully releasing only a small portion of the sheath, there is no detrimental effect on tendon function.
The procedure is most commonly performed under local anaesthetic (with or without light sedation) so that during and after the surgery, the patient can actively move their affected finger and demonstrate that the triggering no longer occurs. The condition is literally cured in front of the surgeon’s eyes!
Following surgery your hand will be bandaged to control swelling and give your wound an opportunity to heal. You will be able to move your fingers and use your hand to assist in activities of daily living but the more you rest your hand in the first couple of weeks after surgery the quicker your recovery will be. It is quite normal to experience a feeling of fullness or swelling and some restriction in movement for up to six weeks following surgery.