Trigger finger occurs when your finger becomes ‘locked’ in position in the palm of your hand and is difficult to straighten. This happens when the tendon in the palm of your hand thickens and gets stuck.
Your doctor may recommend surgery to correct your trigger finger, usually if other treatments such as steroid injections, anti-inflammatories and a splint have proven unsuccessful.
In many cases, the cause of trigger finger is unknown. However it is a condition that is more likely to affect women than men and is more common in people in their 40s and 50s. You may also be more likely to develop trigger finger if you have previously injured your hand, or have certain pre-existing medical conditions including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, carpal tunnel syndrome, Dupuytren’s contracture and some other hand conditions.
If you decide to have your treatment with us, you will be looked after by an experienced multi-disciplinary care team.
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You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
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Our dedicated team will also give you tailored advice to follow in the run up to your visit.
We understand that having surgery can potentially be a time of anxiety and worry. Our experienced and caring medical staff will be there for you, providing reassurance every step of the way.
Your operation may be done under general anaesthesia, which means you'll be asleep during the procedure, or under local anaesthesia, which means you'll be awake but your hand will be numb. It usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes. If you're having the operation under local anaesthesia, we may offer you a sedative to help you relax. This may also make it easier for you to keep your hand still during the procedure.
Your surgeon will make a small cut in your palm to get to the tendon and release it. He or she will then close the cut using stitches.
Your surgeon may give you an injection of a long-acting local anaesthetic around the operation site to keep the area pain free afterwards.
Wide-awake hand surgery or WALANT
Wide-awake hand surgery or WALANT (Wide Awake Local Anaesthetic No Tourniquet) is a surgical technique allowing the surgeon to operate on your hand while you're awake. By injecting lidocaine (local anaesthetic) in combination with epinephrine (adrenaline) into the hand, it avoids the need for general anaesthetic and helps to control bleeding so a tourniquet isn’t required which reduces pain during the procedure.
The procedure allows real-time feedback to the surgeon during the operation on the movement of the hand. Using local anaesthetic can reduce the risk of potential surgical side effects and complications and get you back to your normal activities faster with a quicker recovery.
Trigger finger release is usually performed as a day case so you won't need to stay overnight in hospital.
After the procedure, you will be taken from the operating theatre to a recovery room, where you will come round from the anaesthesia under close supervision.
After this, you will be taken to your room or comfortable area where you can rest and recuperate until we feel you’re ready to go home.
A physiotherapist will visit you and show you gentle exercises that will strengthen your hand and keep your joints mobile.
After surgery, you may have some pain, swelling and bruising around the operation site. This may last for a week or two, or until the wound heals.
If your surgeon injected you with a long-acting local anaesthetic around the operation site to keep the area pain free afterwards, your palm and fingers may feel numb for up to 10 hours. After this wears off, you can take over the counter pain relief to ease any discomfort.
You will usually have your stitches removed about seven to 14 days after the operation but if you have dissolvable stitches, they will disappear on their own in seven to 10 days. Afterwards, the scar will feel quite firm and tender.
Follow your surgeon’s advice about driving, returning to work, heavy lifting and sport. A full recovery can take up to a month.
In some cases, the symptoms of trigger finger return needing further surgery. This is more likely if you have diabetes.
Once you’re ready to be discharged from hospital, you’ll need to arrange a taxi, friend or family member to take you home as you won’t be able to drive. You should not drive until you feel you could do an emergency stop without discomfort.
Even after you’ve left hospital, we’re still looking after you every step of the way. After trigger finger release surgery, we will provide you with all the appropriate medication, physiotherapy exercises, advice on what to do and not to do with your finger and follow-up support.
On rare occasions, complications following trigger finger release can occur. Please call us straight away if you experience any of these symptoms
The possible complications of any surgery include an unexpected reaction to the anaesthetic, excessive bleeding, infection or developing a blood clot, usually in a vein in one of your legs (deep vein thrombosis, DVT). Complications specific to a trigger finger release include a small risk of injury to other nerves, blood vessels or tendons in the hand.
The chance of complications depends on the exact type of operation you are having and other factors such as your general health. We will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.
If you have any questions or concerns, we're here to help.
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The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.
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