When Does Trigger Thumb Necessitate Surgery?


Quick Answer

A trigger thumb necessitates surgery when symptoms are severe and it does not respond to any less invasive treatment, Mayo Clinic explains. This is more likely when trigger thumb occurs in people with diabetes, which is a risk factor for trigger thumb.

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Full Answer

Trigger thumb is one manifestation of trigger finger, in which a finger is stuck in a bent position because the tissues surrounding the finger swell and trap the tendon that controls its movement, according to Mayo Clinic. The finger may become fully trapped in a bent position, or it may straighten with a snapping sound. Surgical treatment for trigger finger involves breaking apart or severing the tissue that surrounds the tendon, known as the tendon sheath. Doctors can break up the sheath using local anaesthetics and a needle. If this treatment is insufficient, surgeons can make an incision in an operating room to cut the sheath.

Prior to surgical treatment, less invasive treatments such as resting the thumb, stretching exercises and splints can help the tendon recover. In more severe cases, steroid shots are usually successful in treating trigger thumb. Steroid shots work to cure trigger finger in 90 percent of patients who do not have diabetes, but in only 50 percent of those with diabetes.

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