Recovery from trigger finger surgery. How long? PT?

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Alcie
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   Posted 6/9/2010 7:05 PM (GMT -6)   
I had trigger finger surgery two weeks ago, got the stitches out today and was sent immediately to PT.  I was given a set of exercises, a strap thing to hold my fingers bent, a couple of splints to make them straighten, and some cream to rub into the scars with instructions.
 
I had pretty bad pain spasms every time a stitch pulled before they were removed, or at least that's what I thought was happening.  Stitches out, still pulling!  Ouch and double ouch! 
 
Nobody tells us before surgery that there is a bunch of recovery stuff!  It's not on the websites either, and I read a lot of them, watched some videos to see what was going to happen.  I'm no wimp either!  The only anesthesia I didn't refuse was the local.  I really wanted to watch.  If I had been expecting this I wouldn't complain.  In fact, I'm not complaining about pain, just that I was not informed.
 
Is this going to go on for a long time?
 
   
Alcie
 
 


Chutz
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   Posted 6/9/2010 11:13 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Alcie,

I've had 2 trigger finger surgeries and it has been several years...the pain memories subside in those years. BUT, as I recall it did take a while for some of the pain to back off. I didn't have any splints or PT. Just sent home, keep my hand elevated above the heart for the first 2-3 days and use Vit E oil rubbed into the scar area to aid healing. The surgeon is a wonderful sports medicine doc who specializes in doing kids and athletes. I have had him for 2 carpal tunnel releases and 2 trigger finger surgeries and each time it was simple, no PT and I recovered nicely.

It does take time though for the nerves that are in the finger and palm of the hand to settle down and heal. That's quite an insult to those delicate parts in there. If you stretch it and you feel a lot of pain then I would think you stretched too far. I would expect some discomfort but if it's so bad that you would consider taking pain medication for it that just seems like too much too soon. Just my opinion there.

It took at least a couple of months for the strength to return to the finger and then I still had to be a bit cautious or I'd feel some twinges. But those 4 minor surgeries were the best thing! I shouldn't have waited so long.

I did some searching and found a bit of information from what looked like a reputable site. Here's what I found...hope it helps!

Chutz

WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER SURGERY?

* The pain that travels or radiates up or down the finger and hand is often relieved almost immediately. Pain becomes more centered around the surgical site while the hand is healing.
* The surgical area in the palm of the hand will likely be tender for 3-4 months after surgery.
* There will be some amount of swelling over the surgical area for months as well
* You may still notice a trigger in the finger until some of the post-operative swelling has gone down
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Alcie
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Date Joined Oct 2009
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   Posted 6/10/2010 7:30 AM (GMT -6)   
Chutz -
Thanks so much. I was thinking I was supposed to feel better instantly. Especially since I had 3 fingers done on the same hand, that was too much to expect. I don't know if the triggering is gone because I can't close my hand more than halfway yet. At least I don't have to type with only three fingers today!

I'd like to read the rest of the site if youre allowed to post it. If not I will email directly. I'm pretty good at looking up info before posting, but sometimes it's hard just thinking up the keywords to search. I did my homework pre-op and went into it eyes open and not anxious at all, but dozens of sites have nothing on post-op!
Alcie
 
 


PAlady
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   Posted 6/10/2010 2:34 PM (GMT -6)   
Alcie,
I did PT with a therapist who specialized in hands when I had my trigger finger done, but I had it done at the same time the carpal tunnel was done on that hand, too. The finger exercises helped a lot and I remember doing them for a long time, but I'm not sure how soon after surgery you should be starting. You don't want to push things too fast. If it doesn't improve over time you should ask you doctor and see about more PT.

Good luck.

PaLady

Alcie
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Date Joined Oct 2009
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   Posted 6/10/2010 4:17 PM (GMT -6)   
Setback today. The little finger incision started opening up as I was driving home from the dentist.

I put a narrow piece of tape across the gap to keep it closed - didn't have a steri strip or butterfly. I called the office; the nurse said it will granulose in from bottom and to keep a band aid over it, and it'll heal in a couple of days. She said to keep exercising the other fingers, but I can't. All the exercises, any movements at all, pull on the little finger incision and it stings.

Thanks Palady - I was two weeks out of surgery yesterday when the stitches came out. They sent me to the office in the next room and started me on exercises and stretches immediately.

I have carpal tunnell on that hand too. I think I'll wait until the hand is completely healed before getting anything more!
Alcie
 
 


vanjoy
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Date Joined Nov 2011
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 11/6/2011 10:04 PM (GMT -6)   
Hey Guys,

I'm having the surgery done on both hands I haven't really got much information about this from my doctor.

I'm planning to have them both done on the same day so will there be complications with me driving? And these stitching you all mentioned, how easily will they come out? Is there a way to NOT make them come out?

What can I expect after the surgery?

Chutz
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Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 9090
   Posted 11/6/2011 11:01 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi vanjoy~

And welcome to Healing Well. When you are done with the surgery you will most likely have two or three stitches in the palm of your hand about an inch or less below the finger joint that was triggering. Those aren't likely to pull out. As far as driving goes, if it were only one hand being done I wouldn't be concerned but having both hands done at the same time....I personally would not try driving until the stitches are out.

Hope this helps,
Chutz
Moderator on the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain forums
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~~~~~
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny..." ~Isaac Asimov

Alcie
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Date Joined Oct 2009
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   Posted 11/7/2011 12:55 PM (GMT -6)   
Vanjoy -

DON'T do both hands the same day! You can't use the surgical hand for anything for at least 2 weeks. You do get to wiggle the fingers, but that's all. Most places wouldn't even allow doing both hands the same day!! I'd dump that doc fast.

No, you won't be able to drive if you do this, not for a long time. There's only a couple of stitches in each hand under each finger that's operated. The doc will remove them at the first visit which is 2 weeks out. The stitches are in the joint where the finger goes into the hand. After the stitches are out you still have months of therapy, and it's painful if it's working. Mine was too gentle and I still have pain after well over a year. You HAVE TO work hard on your own to keep scar tissue from tightening up your hand so you can't use it. I didn't find out what I should have been doing until it was too late.

You have a giant piece of foam "swiss cheese" to wear all the time for 2 weeks. You aren't allowed to get the bandages wet. It hurts bad enough you won't want to use the hand anyway.

There's no pain at all to the operation. You don't need anything IV. I asked not to have anything, didn't need it. It's for sissies who are panicked. The local will numb the hand so you don't feel anything until the middle of the night. Have your pain meds handy and take them at the first hint of pain. That goes on for a couple of days.

Don't do both hands at the same time. Wait at least 3 months.
There's lots of info on the net, watch the videos so you can see what you are getting done.
Alcie
 
 

francoom
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2011
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 11/29/2011 11:44 PM (GMT -6)   
I just had my trigger finger surgery (affected was my 3rd finger on my right hand) last week, 11/21/2011. It is now my 10th day and 4 more days before they remove my stitches on my palm.

Every morning, I noticed that my 3rd digit on my right hand is slightly bent and have a hard time extending it and there is a feeling of weakness. Is this normal because my surgery is not fully healed yet?

I am also scared for my next week visit on how they will remove my sutures. I think I'm getting paranoid again. :(

Alcie
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Date Joined Oct 2009
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   Posted 11/30/2011 4:55 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Fran -
Don't worry at all about the suture removal. It is no big deal. It doesn't hurt.

It takes a long time and lots of PT to get the finger to straighten out. Scar tissue has already started to build up. You will be put on a program of PT by your hand doc probably the same day, probably two or even three times a week, and home exercises too.

The problem comes after the healing is well under way. My opinion, and I'm not a doctor, is that inflammation sets in and we aren't told to be vigorous enough in our exercises and rubbing the scar area to break it up. I think we should be using heat more, maybe meds like prednisone or at least ibuprofen to lessen swelling so we can do more exercises to prevent the scar tissue from locking up our hands.

Now, a year after having 3 fingers done, I have pretty bad pain and stiffness every day when I get up. Working with my hand in quite hot water gets me going. Then I get my pain meds for my other conditions and I can get through the day. I stretch and rub the scar area all throughout the day, especially when my hand gets cold. I feel one finger may have to have a revision as it still catches, but that's not the usual case.
Alcie
 
 

Chartreux
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Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 7670
   Posted 11/30/2011 7:49 PM (GMT -6)   
Alcie,
Maybe get a parafin hand wax kit and that might give your hand the heat
to help, instead of keep them in hot water...just an idea...I'm going to be
looking into one for my rhumatoid arthritis, cause somedays the
cold just hurts my hands too much...
well wishes...
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francoom
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Date Joined Nov 2011
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 12/2/2011 12:56 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks guys. I'll take your word for it that suture removal is painless. Hahaha. I just hope I can get back to my piano playing and my agility won't be affected. I am a classical pianist (and a programmer too) and tried playing some pieces but had limited executions on my right hand. How long should I wait to fully heal from the time they remove the sutures?

Nosmo
New Member


Date Joined Jan 2012
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 1/28/2012 1:56 PM (GMT -6)   
I am having the surgery on my thumb this week. I am glad that I read these posts, as I was under the impression that I would be 100% almost immediately. Not happy to know that isn't the case, but it is better to be prepared.

Alcie
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2009
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   Posted 1/28/2012 5:12 PM (GMT -6)   
I had 3 fingers done at the same time, so I'm not an example for getting one done. My friend is able to use her thumb normally after only a few weeks, but I don't know if it hurts. I'm a year and a half out and one finger still triggers some. I may need a re-do. It happens sometimes.

I wasn't told to be vigorous with the stretching and rubbing to keep from getting adhesions, so I have them. My hand is stiff and still hurts most of the time. I thought about the wax, but it takes a lot of time out of my schedule. I can get in my hot tub 101 degrees and work the hand and also do some body stretches and leg exercises at the same time.

Follow the doctor's orders, but don't wimp out. If he says rub the scar, ask him to show you how hard. You don't have to make it hurt horribly, but you do have to increase it daily. It only takes a couple of days for scar tissue to start forming, which will freeze up your hand it you let it.

pianist101
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Date Joined Jan 2012
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 1/29/2012 10:26 PM (GMT -6)   
I've been reading this thread with great interest because I am also a pianist and work on computers a lot. I am also a recent breast cancer survivor and the meds that I was on for estrogen blocking caused severe joint ache, which is when my trigger finger started (both thumbs and right middle finger). I tried shots in each, no help. Tried splints, no help. So I'm scheduled to have the surgery on Feb 10th on both hands.

My sister is coming to help me for 11 days; I'm really struggling with whether or not to do it at the same time, but I also am under time constraint because part of my job is playing piano for a larger church, for schools, and I do a lot of computer work for a CPA doing taxes which are right in our face. I've considered leaving the left thumb til after all my performances and tax season, but my right thumb was "ok" and over just a week got to where I could no longer put much pressure on it. So I'm scared the same will happen with the left.

My main question is - did any of you have your surgery and were able to "function" after a week? It seems like I'm reading that no one was able to really do much for months. What level of functioning were you able to return to after about a week?

Thanks everyone!

Alcie
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Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 3055
   Posted 1/30/2012 5:56 AM (GMT -6)   
pianist -
Don't do both hands at the same time! They have to be wrapped for 2 weeks. How would you shower, let alone wipe? Don't even consider it!

My trigger fingers were also caused by breast cancer meds. The worst was Aromasin. 3 pills and I felt like I would just as soon suffer the consequence of not taking anything. Instant trigger fingers! I had tried all the other meds, Femara was the best, ever tamoxifen was intolerable. Like being 90 years old with that much arthritis.
The left hand recovered on its own after 6 months or so off the meds. I think it might have been wise to wait on the right hand too, or at least not treat 3 fingers. I wonder, after I did not have great results, if I should have waited. 2 years post-op my hand is still stiff, hurts, although I do have full function.

No, you won't be able to function after a week. The stitches and wrap come off at 2 weeks. Then you need serious PT, working on the fingers yourself to fight the adhesions that have started since day 2. You can wiggle the tips of the fingers right away when the anesthetic wears off, but it can hurt and will not stop the adhesions.

Red_34
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Date Joined Apr 2004
Total Posts : 21751
   Posted 1/30/2012 7:11 AM (GMT -6)   
Pianist, it's highly unlikely you will be able to use your hand for at least 2 weeks, minimum. I had trigger finger surgery last July on the A1 pulley. Not only did I have a tight sheath, I also had significant fraying of the tendon. After the initial numbness wore off, it took about 2 days, the nerves were all riled up and my finger tip was numb for about a month before it settled down.

I had my stitches out in about 10 days but I only had to wear my dressing for 2 days. I was encouraged to use my hand right away to avoid the scar tissue from adhering to my tendon. However, my hand was extremely tender after surgery so I could only do a little bit here or there. I did not have PT for mine.

It's now been 6 months and even tho the trigger finger pain is gone, I still have slight pain and stiffness when I wake up. The pain eases but the stiffness is something I deal with off and on thru out the day but it is much more bearable than that horrid TF pain.
SHERRY
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Mommie24
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2012
Total Posts : 52
   Posted 2/3/2012 11:42 PM (GMT -6)   
I had surgery on my left thumb 2 weeks ago, and healing is going well. It hurt the first day or two, but I have been able to work as a preschool teacher starting two days after surgery. However, now I have my thumb and two other fingers in my right, dominant that are now triggering. At my two week post-op, I was given the option of cortisone in my thumb, which we tried, but it wasn't expected to work, and doesn't seem to be. How long did others wait between hands? Also how different is the recovery between just the thumb, and the thumb and two more fingers at the same time? I am likely to have the second hand done in a few weeks which will be only 7 weeks after the first.

USN Ret
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Date Joined Feb 2012
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 2/4/2012 4:46 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm new to this forum and joined because after almost two months since my surgery I still cannot extend my long finger, cannot make a fist, and experience all kinds of pain from my forearm through my wrist to my finger(s). I was able to numb the pain somewhat with Aleve, but now that I'm scheduled for eye surgery next week, I've not been allowed to take aspirin-type meds. My hand doc keeps telling me that it will be 4 to 6 months before I am completely healed. Of course, that wasn't discussed prior to the surgery. If I had known, I'd have continued my steroid injections! The doc said I didn't need PT; just need to stretch the finger (my Gott, what pain!) continually during those 4-6 months! This doc is a hand specialist in private practice by himself. Did I make a mistake having surgery? Even my upcoming eye surgery is to fix what another eye doc did to me 18 months ago. I'm just a walking disaster it seems. Thanks for listening... (Go Navy!)

Alcie
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Date Joined Oct 2009
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   Posted 2/4/2012 6:25 PM (GMT -6)   
Dear USN, welcome to the forum.

What did you have done? If it was trigger finger surgery, as all the others in this thread were talking about, it does need PT or at least you need to be doing exercises and massages on your own to keep the hand from developing adhesions, or at least stretching them. At least that was what I was told. If it was something else you might want to start your own thread.

We're not doctors here, just patients. We can't tell you what to do, just talk about our experiences.

USN Ret
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2012
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 2/4/2012 6:57 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the welcome, Alcie. I understand - we're all patients and some without patience... I tried to describe my experiences and thought I did a good job. In answer to your question...I had trigger finger surgery on long finger of left hand in mid Dec 2011. As I said in my earlier post, the doc decided I did NOT need PT and told me to just attempt to straighten the finger frequently. Which I do... I think I'm in the right thread so I'll continue to monitor this until someone tells me to "git outta here..."

straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 10581
   Posted 2/4/2012 8:37 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi USN Ret and welcome to the chronic pain forum. It really sounds like you are having a difficult time after having surgery and not a lot of input afterwards from the dr, that can be so frustrating. Please try not to get too discouraged. I have not had this particular surgery done but do know of several that have and they all went to PT after the surgery. A lot of it was what the physical therapist had them do at home too.

You know I am thinking perhaps you could do a google search on the internet for some different types of exercises to do for your finger, something gentle. Something else I suggest it to get a hot parrafin wax machine, they are inexpensive and use this on your hands, this should really helped with any stiffness and the heat will help when doing some exercises. I have seen the hot wax used in PT before.

Anyway, I wanted to pop on and tell you welcome aboard.
Moderator-Chronic Pain Forum

Dwall0508
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2012
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 2/7/2012 11:58 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello, I am new here. I am getting the surgery done on March 5th Im seeing it takes everyone about 4-6 months to heal, If thats the case, Do I need to request that much time off of work?? My docotor said 2 weeks but I do alot of lifting at work as well as using my fingers..I am having 2 fingers done at the same time on my right hand, my my middle and ring finger.. I go for my pre opt apt feb 13th but I actually have alot of swelling in the hand right now, is that common?

Diana

markallen
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2012
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 2/11/2012 1:03 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello everyone, just a quick post to offer some guidance with surgery for a trigger finger. I had surgery on my right hand middle finger in 2010 and all went well. I just had surgery on my left hand middle finger yesterday. Here are some suggestions! If you have trigger fingers on both hands, never get them done at the same time. Find a good doctor who specializes in hands and arms. Use a local anasthetic rather than getting put to sleep.
 
The surgery itself only takes about 30 minutes and a mini tent is used by the nurse to keep you from watching the procedure. I for one do not like watching someone cut me. I have to wear an ace wrap over a heavy pad of gauze where the incision took place. This has to be worn for 10 days and cannot get wet, thus the reasoning for not having both hands done the same day. After 10 days, I will see the surgeon who will then take out the stitches (it is painless). It takes about 3-4 months before your hand gets back to 100%. I can usually start doing some moderate lifting and swing a golf club after about 4 weeks.
 
By the way, my doctors name is John Hand and he is located in Sarasota Florida. One of the finest doctors I have ever met.      

Alcie
Veteran Member


Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 3055
   Posted 2/11/2012 7:09 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Dw and mark, welcome to the forum.

Dw - You should ask your surgeon about the swelling. I didn't have any pre-op, but maybe someone else here did. You can search older posts by putting your keywords onto the search box at the top of the page. Your doc knows you better than we do, but they do tend to be a bit optomistic, in my experience.

Dw - After a year my hand isn't as recovered as I expected, although it is way better than having trigger fingers. I have plenty of range of motion but still have a good bit of pain. The pain may be from not doing enough kneading and massaging right in the beginning and having a lot of adhesions as a result. Adhesions start in the first couple of days!

I totally agree with not getting general anesthesia! I asked not to have sedation either, which is very common. I just had a nurse to talk to - the whole 15 minutes it took to do 3 fingers. No fuzziness, no loss of memory. I wanted to watch, but the doc's back was toward me blocking my view, since he is right-handed and was working on my right hand. I couldn't feel a thing!
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