The procedure | Release of trigger finger

Sometimes a tendon in a finger swells up due to local irritations. As the tendon slides through tight tunnels in the hand, any swelling will result in an inability to pass through those tunnels. The finger then gets stuck in a flexed position, which may be uncomfortable or even painful. Often this malfunction can be treated by injection, but sometimes the tunnel needs to be widened under local anaesthetic. This is an immediate solution to the problem, allowing the tendon to perform its previous function.

Where will I be operated?

If the treatment will be by injection, then this will be done at the time of consultation. If an operation is the best option in your case, then this will be performed in the fully equipped operating theatre at the Radetzky villa.

What can I expect of the operation?

The operation will be performed under local anaesthetic and will take approximately 10 to 20 minutes. Your surgeon will always see you before the operation and will talk you through the steps. The procedure will start with numbing the skin of your hand, followed by prepping and draping of your lower arm and hand. Markings will be made on your finger and your arm will be elevated in order to reduce the amount of blood inside. Then a band around your upper arm will inflate tightly to prevent blood from running through your arm for the period of the operation. Your surgeon will use a precise electric devise to stop any bleeding that may occur and will use a suture to close the wound.

What are the risks?

Trigger finger release is considered to be a low risk procedure. The most common complications are postoperative bleeding, infection, scar reactions or reduced sensation. In some cases this may lead to prolonged recovery. Luckily these complications only seldom occur.

What can I expect after the operation?

Your hand will be bandaged for 24 hours, during which time regular elevation – with your hand being higher than the elbow – is wise. When the anaesthetic wears off you may experience some slight discomfort. In the first few days healing will include some swelling and (variably) some restricted movements. These should however gradually disappear, as you are encouraged to use your hand as normal as possible. The sutures will be removed after 1 to 2 weeks.

What will the scars be like?  

The small scar will run on the inside of the affected finger(s). It will be slightly red for the first few months. Eventually the colour will even out. Typically a scar will take one year to fully mature and in the majority of cases the scar, although present, should not be on the foreground anymore by that time.

How long before I can resume my normal life?

Most people manage to return to light activities in the first few days after surgery. At one to two weeks after surgery a follow-up appointment will be made for you at the Radetzky villa, where the sutures will be removed. From then on you are allowed to do everything again. However, please listen to your body though; pain is a protective mechanism, so if certain movements are painful please do not overdo them.

What is good to know about the long term?

A trigger finger results from the swelling of a tendon. The treatment will focus on the site where the trouble resides. At a later date swelling of other parts of other tendons may occur, which may necessitate further treatment.
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