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What is trigger finger?

Trigger finger is a condition where your finger jams or gets stiff, or straightens with a painful snap. It can also affect your thumb.

The tendons that bend your fingers usually glide freely through tight tunnels made by flexor tendon pulleys attached to bones in your hand. If the fibrous wall of a tunnel thickens, the tunnel becomes too tight, usually resulting in your finger jamming in a bent position.

Trigger finger graphic

What are the benefits of surgery?

The aim is to allow your finger to move freely.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

A steroid injection into the base of your finger can treat the problem in up to 6 in 10 people. However, you may need more than one injection.

What does the operation involve?

The operation can usually be performed under a local anaesthetic and usually takes about 20 minutes.

Your surgeon will make a small cut on the palm of your hand at the base of your finger. They will cut open the roof of the fibrous tunnel that is causing the trigger finger. This allows the tendon to glide freely through the tunnel.

What complications can happen?

General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Scarring of your skin

Specific complications of this operation

  • Numbness in your finger
  • Tenderness of the scar
  • Bowstringing, where damage to the tendon prevents you from fully straightening your finger
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of your hand

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day.

Your surgeon will tell you when you can return to normal activities.

Keep your hand raised and bandaged for 2 days. It is important to gently exercise your fingers, elbow and shoulder to prevent stiffness.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

If your finger was stiff before the operation, it can take several months before you can move your finger normally.

Summary

Trigger finger is a condition where your finger jams or gets stiff. If treatment with steroid injections has failed, surgery should allow your finger to move freely.

Disclaimer

The operation and treatment information on this website is published under license by The London Clinic from EIDO Healthcare UK and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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