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What exactly is trigger finger surgery?

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Trigger finger surgery is a procedure used to restore normal movement to a finger that is chronically "locked" in a bent position, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The surgery involves widening the tendon sheath, allowing a damaged or swollen flexor tendon to slide back and forth smoothly.

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Surgery is only necessary when trigger finger persists or causes lasting pain and stiffness. A typical procedure requires making an incision into the palm of the hand, cutting the tendon sheath and leaving the tissue to reform naturally, the AAOS states. Physicians generally use a local anesthetic to numb the affected fingers and consider the surgery a low-risk procedure that can be performed on an outpatient basis. Surgery often provides immediate relief, but in severe cases, the patient may experience continued swelling for a few weeks or need physical therapy to prevent long-term stiffness.

Flexor tendons run through the arms, wrists and hands, connecting finger muscles to bones to enable hand movements, according to WebMD. Tendons glide through tunnel-like tissue structures, known as sheaths, which are lubricated to reduce friction. An inflamed flexor tendon can become stuck temporarily or permanently when moving through the sheaths, causing it to stay bent or make a snapping motion when the individual tries to straighten the finger. Trigger finger can be caused by conditions such as arthritis or diabetes, or it may develop from stressful, repetitive hand motions, including working with tools or playing instruments.

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