When Treatment Is Necessary:
Splinting, NSAIDs and Simple Steps:
The success of these noninvasive treatments depends on the severity of the trigger finger. Most people with few symptoms don't seek any treatment. Most people with more painful symptoms have passed the point when simple steps are helpful. That said, a trial of simple treatments is certainly reasonable.
Very few doctors are still splinting trigger fingers, as the success of this treatment is debated, and often the splints have to be worn for several months to be helpful. Since other treatments are successful, splinting is seldom used any more.
Usually a single cortisone injection will resolve the problem at least temporarily. The chance of the cortisone providing a lasting solution is about 50%.
Side-effects of a cortisone injection are most often minimal, but for some people, they can be quite significant. That is why some doctors and patients choose to skip the shot and move right into more definitive treatment, such as surgery.
Following the trigger-finger release, activity of the finger is encouraged, as this will help prevent scar tissue from forming where the surgery was performed. Patients are advised to avoid pressure on the healing incision for a few weeks. Full recovery is expected.
Trigger finger surgery is very safe, but there are possible complications. The most common problem is that the trigger finger can come back if the tendon sheath is not adequately released. Other possible problems include infection, stiffness and damage to the nerves of the finger. The likelihood of these problems is small, and surgery has a very high success rate.
What Is the Best Option?:
However, many patients want to avoid the surgical knife. In those cases, there are very reasonable options that do not include surgery. Discuss with your doctor the best treatment for your situation.
Saldana MJ. "Trigger Digits: Diagnosis and Treatment" J Am Acad Orthop Surg July/August 2001; 9:246-252.