Trigger Finger- Patient Sheet

Trigger Finger

What is Trigger Finger?

  • Trigger Finger occurs when the tendon that bends your finger becomes inflamed where it travels through a tight tunnel at the base of the finger

What are the symptoms?

  • When you bend your finger, the inflamed tendon gets caught in the tunnel and can cause the finger to “lock” down
  • Pain

What are the treatments?

  • Steroid Injections
  • Minor Surgery


Steroid Injection

What is a steroid injection?

  • Steroids are medications that decrease inflammation and swelling
  • These are NOT the same steroids that bodybuilders use
  • In some patients, a steroid injection can resolve the trigger finger permanently
  • In other patients, a steroid injection may only resolve the trigger finger temporarily, in which case another injection or surgery would be considered
  • The injection can be done in the clinic the same day as your appointment and takes less than 5 minutes

What should I expect after the injection?

  • The area will be sore the next day (base of the finger in the palm) and you may need to take over the counter pain medication such as Tylenol or Advil
  • Symptoms should start to improve within a week. If they do not, another treatment will be considered


Minor Surgery

What does the surgery entail?

  • Surgery is done in the clinic, using freezing medication (local anesthetic) that is injected into the palm to numb the area (similar to going to the dentist and having your tooth frozen before a filling)
  • Surgery takes about 10-20 minutes
  • We make a cut in the palm that is about 1-2cm long and release the tunnel

What should I expect after surgery?

  • You will have a light bandage on the hand that can come off after 48 hours, after which you can get the hand wet in the shower
  • The freezing in your hand may take several hours to wear off
  • You will need to return in 2 weeks to have the stitches removed and the wound checked


  • Your hand will be the most sore in the first day or 2 after surgery. It is normal to have swelling of the hand and fingers.
  • To help with swelling and pain, elevate your hand on several pillows as much as possible. Do not walk or sit with your hand dangling down. Use an ice pack at regular intervals.
  • Pain and swelling will gradually decrease. Swelling around the cut, and soreness after heavier use of the hand can last for 3-6 months.
  • Most people only need over the counter pain medications like Tylenol or Advil for pain.


  • You can use the hand immediately after surgery for normal activities of daily living
  • Do not soak the hand in a tub or pool for 2 weeks post-surgery
  • You can drive when you feel you have enough finger and wrist movement to do so safely


  • Most people go back to work within a week or 2 after surgery
  • If you work involves manual labor or heavy lifting, you may need several weeks longer off of work, or to be on light duties if available


Call Your Surgeon If You Experience…

  • Redness and swelling around the cut that gets worst rather than better
  • Pain that is not controlled after following the instructions above
  • Green or yellow drainage from the cut
  • Fever or chills


Dr. Sarah Shiga, MD, FRCSC

Hand, Wrist and Reconstructive Plastic Surgeon
The Ottawa Hospital- Civic Campus
190 Melrose Ave, Ottawa, ON, K1Y 4K7
613-798-5555 ext. 19222