This handout explains follow-up care after the surgery of releasing Trigger Thumb. The surgery involved removing the tight constricting bands from around the tendon and removing any ganglions that were present around the tendon. Please check with our office that we have a therapy appointment coordinated for you within 2-4 days after surgery, to begin range of motion exercises and avoid stiffness. You may drive and do light activities as tolerated. Please avoid heavy lifting until the incisions are fully healed. You should refer to the pain management form for more detailed information on postoperative medications to avoid pain, nausea and constipation. If the incision is red or if there is drainage coming out of it, please call us right away at the phone number listed on the bottom of the page. Go to the emergency room if this occurs at night or on a weekend.
- The incision for Trigger Thumb is fairly small. It is usually placed near the base of the thumb.
- Your Thumb will be placed in a bulky dressing (bandage).
- Two days after surgery, you may remove the dressing & yellow gauze from your incision. Put a small bandage over your sutures to keep them from getting caught on your clothes or other fabrics.
- Do not put any ointment or lotion on your wound.
- Keep the wound dry for at least four days by covering your hand with a plastic bag when showering. After four days, you may shower without covering the incision, but please do not soak your hand in a bathtub, hot tub, kitchen sink, swimming pool, etc. Your hand or fingers may swell. Use an ice pack for up to 20 minutes at a time over the surgical site to help ease the swelling. Be sure that you place a thin cloth between your skin and the ice pack to protect your skin. Elevate your hand as much as possible to lessen the swelling and pain.
- You will receive a prescription for narcotic pain medication. Take this with your medication as directed. It is important to “stay ahead” of your pain medication and avoid having to play “catch up” for significant increases in pain. Medication for nausea will also be provided. Please make sure to take this as directed.
- Please make sure to check with the postoperative nurses and the office staff at Bellevue Bone & Joint Physicians about how to manage your pain medication. To best manage your pain, you must take the pain medication the way it was prescribed. Taking the correct dose at the right time is very important.
- If you have uncomfortable side effects from the pain medication, please call us at 425-462-9800.
- Please see “medications after surgery” information form for more instructions.
- It is normal to have some pain off and on for approximately one year after surgery, particularly in cold weather.
- Do not drive if you are taking narcotic medications, as it is not safe and is against Washington state law. Taking medication can make you sleepy and delay your reaction time.
- Once you are no longer taking narcotic medication, you may drive as soon as you can comfortably grip the steering wheel with both hands.
- You can use your hand for daily activities such as getting dressed, typing, combing your hair, and other light activities after the bulky dressing has been removed.
- Do not lift anything heavier than a full soda can (about 1 pound, or 0.45 kg) until your sutures have been removed.
- Avoid heavy repetitive activities, such as hammering, for four weeks as this will increase the scarring after surgery and lower your chances of full recovery.
- You may do light aerobic activities as soon as one to two days after the surgery.
- Avoid any heavy lifting such as weightlifting until four weeks after surgery.
- At 10-14 days, your sutures will be removed.
- You should meet with the physical therapist to learn exercises that will lessen the scarring around the incision and help you increase your hand strength and range of motion.
- After your sutures have been removed, you can increase your activities as tolerated. However, try to avoid heavy or repetitive activities such as hammering until four weeks after surgery.
Most patients who have Trigger Finger or Trigger Thumb release surgery began full use of their hand with full return of motion and strength.
Thomas E. Trumble, M.D.
*Figures courtesy of Principles of Hand Surgery and Therapy by Thomas E. Trumble, MD, Ghazi M. Rayan, MD, Mark E. Baratz, MD and Jeffrey E. Budoff, MD