Trigger Finger? You May Need Surgery

Trigger finger usually begins as a minor annoyance. You can't quite straighten your thumb or finger, but there's no serious pain — maybe only mild discomfort now and then. As your condition worsens, though, it will start to affect you more. Not being able to straighten your thumb or finger may make it hard to type, drive, and do other basic tasks. And it is not uncommon for the finger to start throbbing with pain, which can keep you up at night and distract you during the day.

When your trigger finger reaches this painful, burdensome stage, then it's time to consider surgery. Here's a closer look at what the procedure involves.

Preparing for Surgery

Surgery to correct trigger finger is usually performed by an orthopedic surgeon. Often, it will be performed in an ambulatory surgery center, rather than at a hospital, since you can go home a few hours after the surgery is complete. You will, however, need someone to drive you to and from the surgical center. 

Usually, surgery to correct trigger finger is done with a local anesthetic, so you'll remain awake during the procedure. This means you should not have to fast prior to surgery — but if your doctor gives you different instructions, be sure to follow them.

During the Surgery

Your arm will be numbed via an injection of local anesthetic, and a sheet will be draped so you're unable to see the hand being worked on. Your surgeon may also give you a sedative to calm you down prior to the surgery.

A small incision will be made across your palm, just below the finger that is affected. Through this incision, your orthopedic surgeon will locate the tendon that has shortened. Then, they will cut into the tendon sheath to release the tendon. This should allow your finger to uncurl. The incision will be sutured closed, and your hand will be bandaged.

Recovering From Surgery

You can typically go home after an hour or two of post-surgery observation. You'll need to wear a bandage for about a week, and after that, you will start seeing a physical therapist, who will guide you through some exercises to stretch and re-strengthen your finger. Most people can return to work within a few days, although you may need up to two weeks off if you use your fingers and hands extensively at work.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of how trigger finger can be corrected surgically. Talk to your doctor or a local orthopedic surgeon to learn more.