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Trigger finger release

Stenosing tenosynovitis, or trigger finger, is a common condition caused by inflamed tendons in the fingers.  

Trigger finger release

Stenosing tenosynovitis, or trigger finger, is a common condition caused by inflamed tendons in the fingers.  

close up photo of woman in a blue long sleeve shirt playing a violin following her trigger finger release procedure

What is trigger finger release?

Trigger finger release is the treatment for trigger finger, a painful condition that causes fingers to lock or catch when you bend or straighten them. Several factors are known to contribute to this condition, including other health conditions, like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Work and recreational activities that require repetitive or forceful finger movements are also known to contribute. The condition is also more common in women than men.

Common symptoms of trigger finger include painful, sudden movements such as clicking, popping, or snapping when moving or straightening the finger. If you experience these symptoms, you may also feel pain and stiffness, especially in the morning, or notice that your fingers tend to lock in a bent position. If you notice that one or several of your fingers feels hot or inflamed, it’s important that you see a doctor as soon as possible, because this may also be a sign of infection that requires urgent treatment.

A physical exam is the only necessary step in achieving a diagnosis for trigger finger. Once you present your concerns, a doctor will ask you questions about your experience and diagnose the condition based on your responses. The doctor will also consider the likelihood of the diagnosis based on several known risk factors. For example, trigger finger is known to be most common in women who are aged between 40 and 60 and suffer from other health conditions such as diabetes, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis. 

There are a number of ways to treat trigger finger before surgery becomes the best (or only) option. Simple lifestyle changes like resting your finger, wearing a splint, and completing regular stretching exercises can make a big difference and, in some cases, eliminate the need for surgery. Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications are also helpful in managing and reducing painful symptoms. If a doctor determines that you need surgery, they will administer a local anaesthetic, cut into the base of the finger, and create space for the irritated tendon.

Surgery for trigger finger has a high success rate. After a successful procedure – which is typically completed in just 20 minutes – you should be able to move, bend, and straighten your finger without the catching, locking, or painful symptoms you experienced before. However, the long-term results of the surgery will depend on your commitment to a rehabilitation plan and your ability to modify your lifestyle to avoid activities that trigger the condition. 

As with all surgical operations, there are a number of risks that you should be aware of prior to committing to surgery. During the operation, there is some risk of infection and nerve damage. Tendon damage is possible and a skilled surgeon will minimise the likelihood of these risks. Post-surgery stiffness or discomfort are possible and often relieved by following your rehabilitation plan.  

The rehabilitation process for trigger finger treatment will depend on your choice of treatment and general standard of health. The best thing you can do for your finger post-operation is to wear a splint and keep it relaxed, as this, in turn, allows the muscles to relax and reduces unnecessary pressure on the tendons. You can also raise your hand above your heart to relieve the pressure created by blood flow. Once the pain in your finger and palm begins to subside, your doctor or hand therapist will give you exercises to do at home to regain strength in your palm and fingers.

Preparing for your visit

Dr Cheriachan consults from Norwest on Wednesdays and Blacktown on Mondays and Thursdays.

Your first visit will be used to carefully assess your condition as well as gathering all related health information. It is important that you bring all relevant documents including scans and x-rays. We also ask that you wear clothing that allows freedom of movement as your visit will include a physical examination. 

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