Trigger Finger Release Surgery

If left untreated, trigger finger can lead to complications such as permanent finger stiffness, loss of grip strength, and decreased hand function. Trigger finger surgery has a high success rate and is an effective way to treat the condition.

Our highly experienced, board-certified plastic and hand surgeons have performed thousands of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. We invite you to book a consultation to discuss your goals and treatment options.

Learn More

Trigger Finger Release Benefits:

  • Relief from pain and discomfort

  • Improved range of motion and hand function

  • High procedural success rate

Trigger finger, also called stenosing tenosynovitis, is a common hand condition that impairs overall hand function. Patients with trigger finger have inflammation or thickening of the tendon sheath, the slick lining that allows the finger tendon to glide through finger pulleys. When this sheath is inflamed or narrowed, it makes it difficult for the tendon to move freely through the pulley. This increased resistance of the tendon causes a catching, popping, or clicking sensation in the affected finger.

Trigger Finger Symptoms

Symptoms of trigger finger are usually more pronounced in the morning or after periods of inactivity. Sometimes a patient’s finger will feel “stuck” or locked in a certain position, and become painful and hard to move. Other common symptoms include:

  • Sore lump at the base of the finger on the palmar side of the hand
  • Popping or clicking sensation in the finger
  • Pain when moving the finger
  • Finger locking

Trigger Finger Diagnosis

Trigger finger is a condition where the A1 pulley, located in a patient’s finger, becomes inflamed and thickened. This inflammation causes difficulty for the flexor tendon to move through the pulley as the finger bends. Over time, the flexor tendon may develop an inflamed nodule on its surface, worsening the condition. As the finger bends, the thickened nodule passes through the tight pulley, resulting in a catching or popping sensation that is often painful. In severe cases, the digit may become locked in a bent position, requiring manual straightening by the patient using their other hand.

During your examination, we’ll look for tenderness in the affected finger, particularly over the A1 pulley and the tendon sheath. We’ll also look for signs of swelling or thickening of the tendon sheath and nodules. The telltale sign of trigger finger, however, is a catching sensation when the finger is straightened or bent.

Trigger Finger Treatment Options

Not all cases of trigger finger require surgery. In fact, many patients can successfully relieve symptoms with non-surgical forms of treatment:

Rest: One of the first treatment options we recommend for trigger finger is rest. We usually recommend splinting the affected hand to limit motion. Each time the tendon catches, it produces more inflammation and swelling in the tendon sheath – exacerbating the problem. Trigger finger will continue to get worse with overuse of the finger. Over time, resting the hand allows swelling around the flexor tendon and tendon sheath to decrease, allowing for smoother tendon gliding.

Over-the-counter Medications: Taking an anti-inflammatory medication, such as Ibuprofen, can also help reduce swelling.

Steroid Injections: Corticosteroid injections around the tendon and A1 pulley often help relieve trigger finger symptoms. If symptoms come back after the first injection, we may try a second injection. Surgery is often recommended if two injections don’t resolve trigger finger symptoms.

Stretching: Gentle stretches may help improve range of motion in the affected finger.

Trigger Finger Release Surgery

If non-surgical treatment approaches are ineffective, then your hand surgeon may recommend trigger finger release surgery. During the procedure, we relieve swelling in the tendon sheath by opening the A1 pulley at the base of the finger. This allows the tendon to glide more freely. The outpatient procedure is performed at our ambulatory surgery center in Flagstaff, AZ, and patients can go home after their trigger finger release. The procedure is usually done awake under a local anesthetic or nerve block.

Medical Review: This procedural information has been medically reviewed by plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Brian A. Cripe, M.D.

Trigger Finger Release Recovery and Aftercare

The incision will heal within a few weeks, but it could take a few months for hand swelling to subside. Some patients report tenderness, stiffness, and swelling in the treated area following surgery, but many are able to resume everyday activities as soon as they feel comfortable doing so. Elevating the hand above the heart can help reduce pain and swelling during recovery. We encourage patients to move the affected finger right away after surgery.

Some patients may have persistent stiffness, in which case we’ll prescribe hand therapy to help strengthen and stretch the affected finger, improving overall range of motion and hand function. In very severe cases of trigger finger, the tendon may contract abnormally, causing loss of motion that may not be fully restored following surgery. That said, the vast majority of tendon release surgery patients report a significant improvement in their symptoms.

Trigger Finger Release FAQs

Several factors can increase the chances of developing trigger finger, including certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis; aging; repetitive or forceful use of the hand; and genetics.

Most major insurance providers will cover medically necessary hand surgeries, including trigger finger release. It’s important to check with your insurance company to check your eligibility.

You May Also Be Interested In:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

  • Dupuytren’s Contracture

  • Golfer’s Elbow

  • Hand Fractures

  • Hand Nerve Repair

Book Your Trigger Finger Treatment Consultation

Our experienced, board-certified plastic and hand surgeons would love to bring you in for a consultation to discuss your goals and treatment options. Fill out this form to receive a call-back shortly, or give us a call at 928-774-2300.