Reconstructive Plastic Surgery

Trigger Finger

Trigger finger is a common and treatable condition. It occurs when the sheaths covering the tendons in the fingers thicken and restrict movement. This impedes bending and can cause pain and stiffness.

Depending on the severity of your trigger finger, your surgeon will advise whether treatments such as corticosteroid injections may be sufficient to manage the condition or whether surgery will be necessary.

If necessary, surgery releases the tightest part of the tendon sheath to allow immediate free passage of your tendon to restore free finger movement.

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What is Trigger Finger and how does it develop?

Flexor tendons help your fingers and thumbs bend. These tendons have a lining called tenosynovium. The tendon and lining is covered with soft, thick tissue called pulleys, which the tendon and lining glide through without friction.

Each component needs to stay a certain size for the system to operate efficiently, otherwise it can stop the tendon from moving back and forth. When the tendon is tight, it squeezes the lining and creates fluid. This fluid can cause increased pressure.

Trigger finger develops when either:

  1. The tendon increases in size and no longer glides through the pulley.
  2. The lining increases in thickness and no longer glides through the pulley.
  3. The pulley thickens and no longer allows space for the tendon and lining to glide through.

Thankfully there are several treatments for trigger finger, including reconstructive plastic surgery. The condition can be diagnosed through an appropriate history, hand examination and supportive imaging such as an ultrasound.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Your hand will be in a bulky bandage and you will need to wear a sling and keep your hand elevated for at least two to three days. During this time, it is important to continue with gentle range of motion exercises that keep your tendon moving to maintain its gliding past the operation site.

For the first four to five days you may experience bruising, but this will subside.

Due to the local anaesthetic, you will have pain relief for six to eight hours after the surgery. You may experience some discomfort after this time, which can be remedied with oral analgesics.

Your surgeon will request a follow-up consultation within seven to 10 days of your surgery. They will inspect the wound, check how it is healing and remove any sutures.

After two weeks you can resume light duties and heavier duties within four to six weeks.

More information

What else you should know

Who is susceptible to developing trigger finger?

Anyone can develop trigger finger, however it is more common with certain medical conditions such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes. It may also be more common in certain families and can be associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Continued or repeated gripping may also bring on the condition, but in most cases the cause remains unknown.

Are there risks and complications with this procedure?

As with any surgery there are risks involved. The main risks with this type of surgery is infection, excessive bleeding or bruising and nerve damage (less than 1%).

How will RPS manage my post-operative care?

Your RPS surgeon will give you specific advice regarding your individual post-operative recovery. They will advise:

  • where you will go after your surgery
  • what medication you will be given or prescribed
  • what bandages and dressings you will need and when they’ll be removed
  • if you require stitches, when they’ll be removed
  • when you can get back to normal activity and exercise
  • when to book your follow-up care.

Dr. Michael Findlay

Our Melbourne specialist

The team at RPS Melbourne are committed to providing you with the best possible outcome.

The extensive specialist skills of our surgical team ensure that you are provided with surgical options designed to maximise form and function.

Dr Michael Findlay holds an impressive array of academic credentials, extensive professional experience and a personal commitment to patient satisfaction.