In this article, we will focus on your trigger finger surgery recovery. Trigger finger is a condition when one or more of your fingers gets stuck in a bend position. Trigger finger is also known as stenosing tenosynovitis. If trigger finger is severe, your finger may become locked in a bent position.
Very common therapy of trigger finger is surgery. It helps a lot of people to release their finger. Also, there are a lot of exercises to help with that, we will write them in another article to help you avoid surgery.
What Causes Trigger Finger
Trigger finger is usually caused by swelling of one of the tendons that run along your fingers and thumbs. However, even if the medicine is progressing very fast in last 20-30 years, still, causes of trigger finger are still unexplored enough.
Tendons are fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone. Each tendon is surrounded by a protective sheath. Trigger finger occurs when the affected finger’s tendon sheath becomes irritated and inflamed. This interferes with the normal gliding motion of the tendon through the sheath.
It is very important to know your trigger finger symptoms. Mostly, it’s happening to people that are more than 40 years old, to people who works on a job that uses fingers and thumbs a lot. Also, women and the ones who had hand injury are at higher risk of getting trigger finger.
- A painful clicking or snapping when you bend or straighten your finger.
- Stiffness in your finger
- Soreness at the base of your finger or thumb
- A clicking as you move your finger
- A locked finger that you are not able to straighten
Your doctor will take you to physical exam of your hand and fingers. You need to do physical exam because there is no other way to find out if there is a problem. For instance, if you go to X-ray check, everything will look 100% fine.
Types of Surgery
If you have tried all the other options and treatments and all of them were unsuccessfully, your doctor may suggest you a surgical operation. There are two types of surgical operations when it comes to trigger finger:
Open Surgical Release
This is a standard surgical treatment for a trigger finger. During this surgery, surgeon will make one little incision (1cm) over palm of the hand where tendon is getting stacked.
Mostly, patient will be under local anesthesia. This is great because you can go home the same day you came to hospital. Also, great thing about local anesthesia is that the patient can bend their finger once the release has been performed to ensure the problem is solved.
A percutaneous release is a less-invasive surgical procedure where a minimal incision is made and the pulley is release without directly looking at the pulley and tendon.
Percutaneous release has been shown as more effective and better for quicker recovery. There were some questions about safety in this kind of treatment but clinical studies proved that this is as safe as open surgical release.
Which Option Is Better?
You are probably asking your self which one you should choose. So, still, surgeons are still choosing open surgical release since percutaneous release is pretty “new” treatment. However, doctors are always learning and finding ways how to make a smaller incision. Probably, the most important factor is your surgeon’s experience. Before going to a surgery, always ensure that your surgeon is very experienced in technique that he is going to do.
When your surgeon finishes surgical treatment, your recovery period starts. Usually, trigger finger surgery recovery time is much shorter comparing to other surgical treatments (knee surgery, shoulder surgery etc). However, recovery time also depends on your condition before surgery.
1 to 2 Weeks After
Your finger and hand may be sore and swollen for several days. At first, it can be hard for you to move your finger. You may feel numbness or tingling near the incision. This feeling will probably get better in a few days, removing stitches after few days will make your finger movements much easier.
Even if it’s painful as we said, you should move your finger just after the operation. Raising your hand above heart can ease swelling and pain.
For 1 to 2 weeks after surgery, avoid using your hand. This includes lifting things heavier than 0.5 to 1 kilogram or doing repeated finger or hand movements, such as typing, using a computer mouse, washing windows, vacuuming, or chopping food. Do not use power tools, and avoid other activities that make your hand vibrate.
Usually, you will be able to drive a car within 5-7 days since it does not make your hand vibrate as we mentioned before. However, the best option is to ask your doctor when you can drive again since every person is individual and it depends on your finger condition.
After 2 Weeks
As we said before, recovery time is mostly shorter than with other surgeries. Probably, after 2 weeks you will be able to make full movement with your finger.
2-3 weeks after surgery, when your wound has healed, you should be able to play some sports. However, still take care of your finger since it’s still healing.
When you can come back to work will depend on your job. If you have a desk job or a role that involves light manual duties, you may need only few days. If your job involves manual labor, you may need up to 4 weeks off.
It will probably take about 6 weeks for your finger to heal completely. Once healed, your finger may move easily without pain. The pain can last up to one year after treatment, but it shouldn’t be really painful. The most important thing is that you can move your finger normally.
The choice of surgical treatment also affects trigger finger surgery recovery time. For instance, you may need to wear a splint for 6 weeks. But most patients with trigger finger recover within a few weeks by resting the finger and using anti-inflammatory drugs.
Your surgeon will give you prescription for medicine you might need after surgery. Mostly, people get prescriptions for pain medicine. Always use it as directed. If you used any other medicine before, talk to your surgeon if you can continue using it, and if yes, when.
If you’ve had open surgery, your surgeon should advise you about how to care for the wound in your palm. You may shower, but do not get your hand wet until your doctor says it is okay. Keep the bandage dry by covering it with plastic. Do not take a bath, swim, use a hot tub, or soak your hand until your doctor says it is okay.
Use ice packs few days a day. It will help you reduce swelling and if finger is painful, it may reduce your pain. Don’t do it more than 10-15 minutes few times a day.
If you have stitches, doctor will tell you when you need to come back and he will remove them. Some stitches are dissolvable and will disappear on their own in around 3 weeks.
After your wound has healed, you may be left with a small scar running along your palm, where the incision was made. Read more about scars.
When you will be leaving hospital, your surgeon will give you advises what to do to heal your finger. Doing some exercises and activities may get you feel better, and reduce your recovery time. It is important for you to rest. Sleeping will your recovery. Also, try to walk each day. Day by day, walk a bit more.
Stretching your fingers is very important. Your doctor will show you how to stretch them. Mostly, you will have to do it few times a day to keep them flexible and reduce swelling.
In some cases, just resting and stretching your fingers won’t be enough to heal. You may need finger and hand therapy. This helps you regain range of motion, strength, and grip in your finger and hand. To get the best results, you need to do the exercises correctly and as often and as long as your doctor or your physiotherapist or occupational therapist tells you to.
If you want to see some examples of trigger finger exercises, check this video.
We wrote you the most important things about trigger finger surgery recovery. You found out some general information and how to recovery from surgery. Your safety and healing is our 1st priority. Always ask doctor what to do since they can give you the best advises.
If you still haven’t been on surgical treatment, don’t be scared because this is one of the routine operations for most of the surgeons out there.
Wish you luck with your surgery and recovery!
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