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What Is Trigger Finger Surgery?

You use your hands all day for tasks from typing to cooking. When one of your fingers or thumbs suddenly starts to lock in a painful, fixed position, it can make your daily life more difficult. This condition is commonly known as trigger finger.

The primary cause of trigger finger is inflammation of the tenosynovium, the protective sheath that covers the tendons of your fingers. When the finger becomes inflamed, it prevents the tendons from gliding smoothly when you bend and straighten your finger or joint, causing it to catch and get stuck. Symptoms of this issue include soreness, pain, discomfort, and mobility issues in the affected finger or thumb. A solution to this frustrating problem is trigger finger surgery, a minimally invasive surgical procedure that permanently relieves these symptoms and restores your hand function.

With their longstanding experience and knowledge, our seasoned surgeons at UCI Plastic Surgery can diagnose trigger finger and determine if surgery is the right treatment for you. With advanced surgical techniques and a patient-centric practice, we can provide hand pain relief to improve the overall quality of our patients’ lives.

Here is a quick guide to help you learn more about trigger finger surgery.

What Is Trigger Finger?

Trigger finger is a condition where your finger or thumb becomes painfully locked. In some cases, your finger may remain in its bent position until you get medical treatment. Trigger finger typically affects the ring finger and thumb, but the condition may occur in any finger. In some cases, you may also feel a tender bump or nodule in your palm.

Trigger finger typically occurs when a pulley in the hand becomes inflamed and thickened, making it difficult for the flexor tendon to do its job of bending and straightening the finger. In severe cases, the digit can become locked or stuck in a bent position.

What Is Trigger Finger Surgery, and How Does It Address the Condition?

During trigger finger surgery, a qualified UCI plastic surgeon will release the affected pulley through a small incision in the palm or with the tip of a needle. They’ll use this instrument to separate the pulley, allowing the flexor tendon to glide freely, and restore your ability to smoothly bend and straighten your finger or thumb.

Most patients who undergo trigger finger surgery experience significant functional improvements and relief from their discomfort.

Who Is a Candidate for Trigger Finger Surgery?

You might seek trigger finger surgery if:

  • You experience stiffness in your finger or thumb.
  • Your finger or thumb pops or clicks when you move it.
  • You feel pain or tenderness in your finger or thumb.
  • You have a tender lump in your palm.
  • Other methods to resolve trigger finger have not worked for you.

If you have any of these issues, consult with a hand surgeon to determine your candidacy and learn whether getting surgery is an appropriate approach for you.

What Techniques Does Trigger Finger Surgery Involve?

There are two surgical techniques to correct trigger finger – open trigger release surgery and percutaneous trigger finger release surgery.

With open trigger finger release surgery, your surgeon will inject local anesthetic into your hand. Once the area is numb, they’ll create a small incision at the base of the affected finger or thumb. The surgeon will then carefully cut the top part of the tendon sheath to make it wider. Lastly, they’ll close the wound with stitches and protect it with a light bandage.

Percutaneous refers to going through the skin. As with the open technique, your surgeon will first inject your hand with a local anesthetic. However, instead of making an incision in the palm, your surgeon will use a needle to cut the ligament and access the tendon. Since percutaneous surgery doesn’t require any incisions, you will have virtually no wound or scarring, but this method is slightly riskier and may be less effective than the open-release approach.

During your consultation, your surgeon will determine the appropriate solution based on your unique case.

What Can You Expect Before and After Trigger Finger Surgery?

Before your trigger finger surgery, you will need to schedule a private consultation with one of our UCI surgeons. This one-on-one meeting will be your chance to explain your concerns, medical history, and any non-surgical methods you might have tried to find relief from your condition. A knowledgeable surgeon can determine if you are a good candidate for trigger finger surgery based on this conversation. It’s also your opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the procedure or the doctor.

After your surgery, you may notice an immediate improvement in your hand function, but you’ll also need to follow specific aftercare steps during your recovery period to ensure complete healing. Your surgeon will provide you with a detailed set of instructions to lower risks and prevent complications. 

Is Trigger Finger Surgery a Permanent Solution for the Condition?

There is some risk of your condition recurring after you recover from your non-surgical or surgical intervention. For that reason, be careful when performing activities that require repetitive or forceful gripping of your fingers to avoid developing trigger finger again.

Why Choose UCI?

While trigger finger surgery is a simple procedure, it still requires a qualified hand surgeon’s skill and expertise to ensure ideal results with fewer risks and complications.

At UCI, our surgeons have extensive expertise in their chosen specializations. Apart from performing effective treatments for our patients, our surgeons also teach, lecture, and speak at UCI and global institutions. These industry thought leaders use cutting-edge techniques, equipment, and research to help you resolve your concerns.

To determine if trigger finger surgery can help you restore regular hand function, contact us for a personalized consultation today. We will be glad to help you find an effective resolution at our offices throughout Orange County.