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Trigger finger release: The operation

Trigger finger release: The operation

If you are considering trigger finger surgery, or have a trigger finger operation planned, it is important to know all you can about it. This includes:

  • why you need a trigger finger release operation
  • what it will be like
  • how it will affect you
  • what risks are involved
  • any alternatives.

The information here is a guide to common medical practice. Each hospital and doctor will have slightly different ways of doing things, so you should follow their guidance where it is different from the information given here. Because all patients, conditions and treatments vary it cannot cover everything. Use this information when making your choices of trigger finger surgery with your doctors. You should mention any worries you have. Remember that you can ask for more information at any time.

What is the problem?

Your finger will not straighten easily. It may do so with a sudden jerk or sometimes it may just stay in a bent position. This sudden straightening is called triggering, hence the name trigger finger. The problem is with one of the tendons in your finger.

What is a tendon?

Long strings, called tendons, run from the muscles in your forearm, across your palm and to the end of each of your fingers. In each finger the tendon runs inside a tunnel, called a tendon sheath.

To bend your finger you tighten your muscles and the tendon moves inside the sheath towards your palm. When you straighten your finger, the tendon glides back into the sheath towards the tip of your finger.

What has gone wrong?

The tendon that bends your finger has a bump in it. When you bend your finger fully, the bumpy part of your tendon comes out of its sheath at the base of your finger. When you try to straighten your finger the bump catches on the tendon sheath, stopping the tendon from sliding smoothly back. The bump may release causing your finger to suddenly straighten or ‘trigger’.

The aims

We aim to release your tendon so that you can straighten your finger easily. We cannot remove the bump from your tendon so instead we cut open the entrance to the tendon sheath. This gives your tendon more room to move back and forth.

The benefits

After the operation you will be able to straighten your finger without the sudden jerk or ‘triggering’ that you have now.

Are there any alternatives?

If your symptoms are mild, we can try an injection of steroid around your tendon. This may make the bump on your tendon shrink away.

What if you do nothing?

The condition is not dangerous. But without an operation your finger will get more painful and may become permanently bent.

Who should have it done?

If your triggering is very severe, or it has returned after a steroid injection, you should consider this operation.

Who should not have it done?

You should not have a general anaesthetic if you have major medical problems, such as high blood pressure or a bad heart. We may be able to do the operation using local or regional anaesthetic instead.

 

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