Trigger Finger Release

What is it?

Trigger finger is when the finger gets stuck in a bent position and may straighten with a snap. This occurs when inflammation reduces the space in the sheath surrounding the tendon.

Diagnosis is simple and requires only a physical examination from your doctor.

What are the treatment options?

Depending on the severity, rest from activities that require gripping combined with ice or heat and/or a splint may be all that is necessary to treat the trigger finger. Stretching exercises to maintain mobility may also be recommended.

If symptoms are more severe or if the above does not eliminate symptoms your doctor may recommend one of the following:

  • steroid injection into the tendon sheath to reduce inflammation and allow the tendon to glide freely 
  • splinting the involved finger to allow it to rest 
  • surgery- a small incision can be made at the base of the finger through which the surgeon can cut open the constricted section of tendon sheath

Procedure Goals

The goal of a trigger finger release surgery is to free the involved tendon to allow for normal movement of the finger.

Risk Factors

You are at an increased risk of developing trigger finger if you have work or hobbies that require repetitive gripping motions. Women and individuals who have diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis are also at an increased risk.

What to Expect

Before Procedure

The day of the procedure, you will need to arrange for a ride to and from the procedure and arrange for help at home.

Wear comfortable clothing.

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight for arrivals before noon. Otherwise, do not eat or drink anything seven hours prior to your arrival at the surgery center.

You will be contacted by Lawrence Surgery Center to set up your patient account. They will inform you of your pre-operative instructions as well as tell you when to arrive for surgery.

After Procedure

When you get out of surgery your hand will be wrapped in an ACE wrap to provide compression and support. Your incision will be closed with stitches. You will have limited use of your hand for a few days, so you will need to have someone at home to help you.

You will need to schedule a follow-up visit seven to ten days from your surgery.

Discharge Instructions


  • You may resume your regular diet. However, start slow with clear liquids and gradually work your way back to your normal diet. This will help prevent nausea and vomiting.

Hand Care & Bathing

  • Keep your dressing in place until your first post-op visit 
  • Keep incision dry until sutures are removed. Do NOT soak your hand in water until your incision is well healed.

Elevation and Circulation

  • Elevate the extremity on pillows with fingers point toward the ceiling as much as possible for the first 3-5 days. 
  • After these first few days, continue to elevate as needed in order to reduce swelling. 
  • To encourage circulation and decrease swelling, wiggle your fingers and wrist several times each hour.

Cold Therapy

  • To help reduce pain and swelling, apply an ice pack to the surgical area for 20 to 25 minutes every one to two hours for the first 48 hours and then as needed to help control pain and swelling. 
  • To avoid frostbite, place a towel or t-shirt between the ice pack and your skin. 
  • It is not necessary to use ice while sleeping.

Pain Medication

  • Your physician may give you a written prescription for pain medicine as you leave the surgery center. Take your pain medication as prescribed. You may want to take it regularly for the first 48 hours after surgery. Do not take any additional Tylenol. 
  • While you are asleep in the operating room, a long acting numbing medication may be injected into the surgical area to help relieve your immediate postoperative discomfort for up to 24 hours. When you first notice tingling or throbbing, begin taking your pain medicine so it will become effective before the local anesthesia wears off. 
  • No driving while taking any narcotic pain medication! 
  • The pain medication may cause some nausea so take it with food. 
  • The pain medication and general anesthesia may also cause constipation, so you may need to take a stool softener, fiber bar, Metamucil or prune juice to prevent constipation.

Follow-up Care

  • Watch for temperature > 101.5F, persistent numbness and tingling, persistent bleeding or drainage from the wound, foul odor, progressively worsening pain that is unresponsive to pain medication, chest pain or difficulty breathing. If you have any of these symptoms, call the office if during normal business hours or go to the nearest emergency room. 
  • Please make sure to follow instructions given to you by your physician, they may have specific instructions to your care.
  • If you do not have a postoperative appointment set-up already, please call the office to schedule an appointment for 7-10 days after surgery at (785)843-9125.

Rehabilitation Plan - Exercises

Therapy after trigger finger release is often not necessary, but it is important for you to begin using your hand normally once pain allows in order to prevent any range of motion loss.

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