Yearly Archives: 2017

What Is Wrist Arthroscopy?

Wrist arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that allows a hand surgeon to look inside the joint. Arthroscopic surgery is often performed after patients suffer an injury or when they experience pain, swelling and/or clicking in the wrist.

Wrist Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy can be used to diagnose and treat a number of conditions, including fractures, ganglion cysts, ligament tears, infection, joint inflammation and chronic pain. A commonly performed procedure, arthroscopic wrist surgery is often considered the best treatment approach for many patients.

The Wrist Arthroscopy Procedure

At the start of the arthroscopy, the hand surgeon makes one or more small cuts — typically less than a half-inch long — near the affected joint.

An arthroscope, or a small tool with a miniature camera, is then inserted and manipulated to provide different views of the bones, cartilage, ligaments and other joint tissues. For easy viewing, the three-dimensional images are projected to a television monitor.

If the hand surgeon discovers a problem, surgical tools are inserted to correct the issue as a part of the arthroscopic surgery.

Diagnostic Wrist Arthroscopy

Diagnostic arthroscopy is useful when the cause of joint pain is unclear or when pain persists after several months of non-invasive treatment.

Before scheduling diagnostic arthroscopic wrist surgery, the hand surgeon will perform a physical examination and thoroughly review the patient’s medical history. Provocative tests to locate the specific sources of pain may also be completed, and the patient may be asked to get X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans or other diagnostic imaging tests.

Arthroscopic Surgery for Wrist Problems

Many different conditions can be treated through arthroscopy. Hand surgeons routinely use arthroscopic wrist surgery to treat patients with:

  • Chronic wrist pain due to inflammation or damage following an injury
  • Displaced, unstable and comminuted wrist fractures
  • Ganglion cysts in or near the joints or tendons
  • Ligament tears
  • Tears in the wrist’s triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFFC)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Recovery from Wrist Arthroscopy

Because wrist arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure, recovery is much quicker and involves less pain than open surgery.

After arthroscopic wrist surgery, the hand and arm are wrapped to immobilize the joint. The fingers are left to move freely, and movement is encouraged to help limit stiffness and swelling.

For the first few days following arthroscopy, the arm needs to be elevated. Ice and analgesic medication can help relieve pain. The hand surgeon will provide specific aftercare instructions on wound care, safe post-surgery activities and therapeutic exercises.

Is arthroscopic wrist surgery right for you? Dr. J. Douglas Burrows at the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence in northern Utah can offer expert advice on diagnostic and treatment options for injuries and problems with the wrists, hands and fingers.

With more than 20 years of experience helping patients in the greater Salt Lake City area, Dr. Burrows has the qualifications and training to successfully perform a range of upper-extremity surgeries and non-invasive treatments. To find out if you can benefit from wrist arthroscopy, contact our West Valley City office today.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Treatment

Cubital tunnel syndrome, or ulnar nerve entrapment, is a condition that causes pain in the forearm, numbness or tingling in the ring and small fingers and hand weakness. The issue arises when the nerve that runs through the elbow — the ulnar nerve — becomes irritated, stretched or compressed.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome Treatment

Most patients can successfully manage their symptoms through conservative measures. If lifestyle changes and nonsurgical treatments fail to provide relief, however, cubital tunnel surgery may be recommended.

Lifestyle Changes

For many patients, making changes in body postures at home and work can go a long way toward relieving the symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome. Hand doctors advise patients to avoid:

Activities requiring the elbow to remain bent for a long period of time
Leaning on the affected arm or putting pressure on the elbow
Positioning the chair too low or resting the elbow on the armrest when sitting at the computer
Wrapping the elbow with a towel to avoid sleeping with the arm bent

Nonsurgical Treatments

A range of nonsurgical treatments can work to relieve ulnar nerve entrapment symptoms. Hand doctors often recommend the following non-invasive measures:

Bracing or splinting — Wearing padded support at night may be necessary to keep the elbow straight.
Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — Ibuprofen, naproxen and other anti-inflammatory medications can relieve pain and reduce swelling around the ulnar nerve.
Exercising — Nerve-gliding exercises that encourage the nerve to move smoothly at the elbow may help prevent arm and wrist stiffness.

Corticosteroid injections are commonly used as a nonsurgical treatment for many conditions involving inflammation. But hand doctors don’t recommend injections for ulnar nerve entrapment, as the risk for nerve damage is high.

Cubital Tunnel Surgery

When conservative measures don’t help, surgery can be an effective treatment approach. Surgery may also be advised for patients with severe compression of the ulnar nerve or significant muscle weakness and damage. Helpful surgical procedures include:

  • Cubital tunnel release — This elbow surgery decreases pressure on the ulnar nerve by cutting a ligament to create more space.
  • Ulnar nerve anterior transposition — With this procedure, the nerve is repositioned to prevent it from stretching when the elbow is bent.
  • Medial epicondylectomy — This surgery removes some of the medial epicondyle, or the large rounded end of the humerus bone, to prevent the nerve from getting caught and stretched when the arm is bent.

Do you need treatment for cubital tunnel syndrome? Dr. J. Douglas Burrows, a leading board-certified, fellowship-trained hand specialist based at the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence in northern Utah, can determine the right approach to alleviate your pain and restore your mobility.

With over 20 years of experience serving the greater Salt Lake City area, Dr. Burrows understands how to properly treat upper extremity disorders, diseases and injuries. For an effective treatment plan to relieve your cubital tunnel syndrome symptoms, contact our West Valley City office today.

Thumb Arthritis Surgery Options

For most patients, thumb arthritis surgery involves repairing and stabilizing the damaged joint.

Surgical treatment isn’t always required, at least in the early stages of arthritis. However, conservative measures like splinting, activity modification, anti-inflammatory medication and corticosteroid injections don’t stop disease progression. So eventually, surgery may become necessary.

Thumb Arthritis Surgery Treatment

Hand surgeons commonly use one of several approaches to thumb arthritis surgery. The recommended surgical treatment is based upon how much the disease has advanced and the severity of symptoms.

Ligament Reconstruction

Patients with joint looseness but no cartilage loss may benefit from arthritis surgery to reconstruct damaged thumb ligaments. The procedure involves removing the damaged portion of the ligament and replacing it with a section of the wrist flexor tendon.

Ligament reconstruction surgery can work to stabilize the thumb joint and may help slow arthritis progression.

Ligament Reconstruction and Tendon Interposition

For patients with moderate to severe thumb arthritis, ligament reconstruction and tendon interposition (LRTI) surgery can relieve pain and make pinching and grasping much easier.

With this arthritis treatment approach, the arthritic joint surfaces are removed, along with some or all the trapezium bone in the wrist. A nearby tendon is then detached and positioned as a cushion between the bones. LRTI is a highly successful thumb surgery with results that can last up to 20 years.

Hematoma and Distraction Arthroplasty

Older, less active patients with moderate to severe thumb arthritis and patients with failed ligament reconstructions may benefit from hematoma and distraction arthroplasty. This arthritis surgery involves removing the trapezium bone and immobilizing the thumb with a wire. Patients can get pain relief and improved hand function with this procedure.

Joint Replacement

Just as a hip or knee joint can be replaced, so can an arthritic thumb joint.

Also referred to as thumb arthroplasty, thumb joint replacement is a minimally invasive arthritis surgery that preserves nearby healthy tissues while providing pain relief and improved hand strength. For thumb arthroplasty, hand surgeons use metal or pyrocarbon artificial joints and in some cases place synthetic cushioning spacers between the bones.

Joint Fusion

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis and those with posttraumatic arthritis or physically demanding jobs may benefit from joint fusion surgery, or arthrodesis.

This surgical approach, which permanently fuses bones together, can also help patients who haven’t gotten relief from other thumb arthritis surgeries. Arthrodesis can relieve pain and stabilize the thumb joint while still allowing the patient to grasp and pinch.

If conservative treatments are no longer effective, thumb arthritis surgery may help relieve your pain and restore function to your hand. For expert advice in the greater Salt Lake City area, schedule an appointment with Dr. J. Douglas Burrows at the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence.

Dr. Burrows, a fellowship-trained, board-certified northern Utah hand surgeon with over 20 years of experience treating arthritis and other problems with the hands, fingers and wrists, can explain your options and recommend a treatment approach. Contact our West Valley City office and schedule a consultation to discuss thumb arthritis surgery today.

Hand Surgery Prep Guide to Making Recovery Easier

Does upcoming hand surgery have you worried about how the recovery will go?

Hand Surgery Prep Guide

After the procedure, you’ll likely have to wear a splint or cast for at least a few days, and maybe even as long as eight to 10 weeks, depending on your hand problem. With your hand and wrist immobilized, everyday household tasks can be a challenge.

Making some preparations ahead of time can make your recovery period go more smoothly, and make life easier when you’re healing from hand surgery.

Get Your House Ready

When you’re trying to recover from hand surgery, you won’t feel like cleaning your house. In fact, you may not be physically able to accomplish many cleaning tasks. Before the day of your procedure, do at least a basic cleanup. While you’re at it, make sure to get rid of any trip hazards. The last thing you want is to fall and suffer further injury, so give yourself clear walking paths.

Stock Your Pantry

Cooking can also be a challenge when your hand is immobilized in a splint or cast. Go grocery shopping before your surgery and stock up on easy-to-prepare frozen foods. You may also want to cook some homemade meals and freeze them in portion-sized packages.

Go with Paper and Plastic

Doing dishes with one hand is next to impossible, so make sure you don’t have to do anything other than loading and running the dishwasher. Or to make recovery easier, grab some paper plates and plastic utensils to use while you’re healing from hand surgery.

Assemble Easy Outfits

You’ll need to wear clothing that is loose-fitting, with wide armholes — and no tricky fasteners or buttons — while you’re in a splint or cast. Choose some suitable outfits before going in for surgery, placing them in an easy-to-access location so that you don’t have to fight with drawers and hangers.

Plan Ahead for Pet Care

If you have pets, you may need help with their care during the hand surgery recovery period. Emptying a litter box or taking Fido for a walk aren’t tasks you’ll be able to perform with your hand immobilized, so assign those jobs to someone else.

Arrange for Help

After surgery, you’ll be doing everything one-handed for a while. This can be mentally and physically exhausting, so try to arrange to have a friend or family member around while you’re healing. Your recovery period will be much easier if you have an extra set of hands to help with household tasks.

If your hand surgery is scheduled at the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence, our expert team will provide you with instructions on how to prepare for and recover from your procedure. But if you do have questions, just ask us. We want you to feel comfortable about your treatment and recovery, not anxious.

Dr. J. Douglas Burrows, one of northern Utah’s leading fellowship-trained and board-certified hand specialists, will take the time to address all your concerns before you come in for your procedure. For expert advice on making hand surgery recovery easier, contact our West Valley City office today. 

Dupuytren’s Contracture Starts with a Lump in the Palm

Dupuytren’s contracture causes abnormal tightening or thickening of the palmar fascia, or the connective tissue that’s just beneath the skin in the palm.

Also known as palmar fibromatosis or Dupuytren’s disease, this hand problem can lead to permanent hand and finger impairment if left untreated.

dupuytrens-contracture-lump

What Are the Symptoms of Dupuytren’s Contracture?

A firm lump in your palm is the first sign of Dupuytren’s disease. The nodule may be uncomfortable or sensitive to the touch; however, pain is not usually associated with this condition.

Over time, additional nodules may appear. Eventually, palm lumps can develop into thick cords, affecting one or more of the fingers. As these tissue cords grow tighter, the affected fingers are pulled in toward the palm. Eventually, it may be difficult or even impossible to straighten the fingers.

The pinky and ring fingers are most commonly affected with palmar fibromatosis, and the condition is often present in both hands.

What Causes Dupuytren’s Contracture?

No one really knows what causes Dupuytren’s contracture, but a family history of the condition does increase the likelihood of developing this hand problem. And some evidence indicates that patients of northern European descent have an increased risk of developing palmar fibromatosis.

Dupuytren’s disease is also more common in men and patients over age 40. Smoking, alcohol use and diabetes are also known risk factors of this hand condition.

How Do Hand Doctors Treat Dupuytren’s Contracture?

For mild cases of palmar fibromatosis, a hand doctor may recommend conservative treatments, such as physical therapy or injections of corticosteroid medicine or collagenase.

An aponeurotomy can also be an effective treatment for Dupuytren’s disease. With this procedure, a small needle is inserted into the affected area, which works to separate the thickened tissue cords and restore finger function.

For more severe cases where patients cannot extend their fingers, hand surgery may be advised. The surgical procedure, called a fasciectomy, removes segments of the palmar fascia.

Dupuytren’s disease is unpredictable, and even after hand surgery, the problem can recur. Roughly half of the patients who suffer palmar fibromatosis find that the condition returns within about 10 years after surgical treatment.

If you have a lump in your palm, prompt attention from an experienced hand doctor is essential to prevent the condition from getting worse. In northern Utah, schedule a consultation with Dr. J. Douglas Burrows at the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence.

As one of the region’s leading experts in hand, finger and wrist disorders, diseases and injuries, Dr. Burrows can provide a diagnosis and an effective treatment plan. Contact our West Valley City office today to schedule a Dupuytren’s contracture evaluation for a lump in your palm.

Vascular Disorders of the Hand and Wrist

Vascular disorders of the hand and wrist occur when the blood supply to the hands or fingers becomes compromised, a condition known generally as vascular insufficiency.

Hand- or wrist-related vascular disease is less common than problems with arteries and veins in the legs. However, vascular insufficiency can have long-lasting health effects. Abnormal conditions of the blood vessels in the hands or wrists can lead to severe disability.

vascular disorders

What Are the Symptoms of Vascular Disorders?

As with most hand problems, symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the condition. However, vascular disorders of the hands and wrists are often characterized by the following:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers or hand
  • Skin coloration changes in the fingertips
  • Sensitivity to cold temperatures
  • Ulcers or wounds that do not heal

What Causes Vascular Disorders of the Hand and Wrist?

Vascular disease can develop in the hand or wrist for a number of reasons. Hand doctors typically categorize these disorders as traumatic, compressive or occlusive.

With traumatic disorders, the condition occurs due to an injury, such as a laceration, to either the radial or ulnar arteries. Compressive disorders occur when the blood vessels become kinked, twisted or flattened. If the blood flow is blocked, the condition is classified as occlusive.

Vascular insufficiency can also result from tumors, malformations or vessel spasms, conditions which may be present at birth or develop later in life.

People with chronic medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney failure, face an increased risk of this disorder. In addition, cold temperatures, working with vibrating power tools and smoking can worsen the condition.

How Are Vascular Disorders Diagnosed?

Hand doctors use a variety of methods to diagnose vascular disease in the upper extremities.

A physical exam to check for visible signs of vascular insufficiency is the first step. If the hand doctor suspects blood circulation problems, an ultrasound or magnetic resonance angiography (a type of MRI that focuses on the blood vessels) may be ordered. Other diagnostic tests that can be helpful include a cold stress test, an arteriography and artery pressure and pulse recordings.

How Are Vascular Disorders Treated?

Treatment of vascular insufficiency depends on the cause and severity of the condition.

In some cases, nonsurgical measures — such as making lifestyle changes or taking medication to increase blood circulation — can be effective. For some patients, surgical treatment may be recommended. Hand surgery may involve repairing damaged blood vessels, removing artery blockages or performing an artery bypass.

If you’re experiencing any signs or symptoms associated with vascular insufficiency, schedule an appointment with Dr. J. Douglas Burrows at the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence in West Valley City, Utah.

Dr. Burrows is one of northern Utah’s leading fellowship-trained, board-certified hand doctors, serving the greater Salt Lake City area for over 20 years. Diagnosing and treating upper extremity problems involving the bones, nerves, tendons and blood vessels is his specialty. For an evaluation for vascular disorders of the hand and wrist, contact our office today.

Wrist Pain: 5 Common Causes

Is wrist pain affecting your work or your ability to participate in the activities you love?

The wrist joint is a complex structure, comprised of multiple bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Damage to any of these components can create pain and affect mobility.

wrist pain causes

A wide range of issues could be to blame for your pain, so a professional evaluation from an experienced hand doctor is a must. However, wrist pain is usually due to one or more of five common causes.

No. 1: Repetitive Stress Injuries

Pain in the wrist is often caused by overworking the joint. Any repetitive physical activity — such as typing, playing tennis, knitting and using vibrating power tools — can inflame the tissues around the joint. Stress fractures and De Quervain’s tendinosis are among the many types of repetitive stress injuries that can lead to wrist pain.

No. 2: Impact Injuries

Physical blows to the wrist are another common cause of pain in this area. Bracing yourself from a fall with your arms can result in a sprain, strain or fracture. A collision impact — when the wrist is forcibly hit — can also bring about damage to these tissues.

No. 3: Arthritis

Osteoarthritis, or the type of arthritis caused by general wear and tear over time, is uncommon in the wrists, but can be an issue for patients with previous wrist injuries. Rheumatoid arthritis, however, which is an immune system disorder, commonly affects the wrists. With this condition, both wrists are typically involved.

No. 4: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by a lack of space in the passageway that houses the median nerve. When the tissues surrounding the nerve swell or thicken, the nerve is compressed or pinched as it passes through the carpal tunnel. This painful condition is often associated with jobs and activities that require repetitive motions.

No. 5: Ganglion Cyst

A ganglion cyst is a benign, fluid-filled lump on the back of the wrist or hand. These soft-tissue cysts aren’t cancerous, and they don’t spread to other areas of the body. But if one is near a nerve, it can create wrist pain. And though it seems the reverse would be true, small ganglion cysts can actually be more painful than larger cysts.

The Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence (CORE) in northern Utah provides leading-edge, comprehensive care for arm, hand and wrist pain — no matter the cause. Our expert, board-certified and fellowship-trained team has the skills and experience to successfully treat patients of all ages.

Dr. J. Douglas Burrows, a long-standing member of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and the American Association for Hand Surgery, can diagnose your wrist problems and help you decide on an effective treatment approach. Contact our West Valley City office to schedule a wrist pain consultation today.

Prevent Wrist Injuries with These Easy Exercises

Wrist injuries can be painful.

Your wrists take a constant beating, all day long. Whether you’re typing, driving, cooking dinner or playing sports, your wrists are in motion. Repetitive movements increase stress and put you at a greater risk for painful wrist injuries like sprains, strains and fractures.

Wrist Injuries

Six easy exercises, done regularly, can boost your joint flexibility and muscle strength, decreasing your likelihood of wrist injuries.

Wrist Stretch

Place one arm out straight, with the palm facing up. Using the other hand, gently pull your fingers toward the floor and hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat with your other arm. Then, perform the same exercise with the palm facing down, gently stretching your fingers upward.

Prayer-Position Stretch

Stand up and place your palms together in front of your face, with your elbows touching. Slowly spread your elbows apart while at the same time lowering your hands to waist level. Stop the movement when your hands are at belly-button height, or when you start to feel the stretch. Hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds.

Fist Lifts

Sit down with your feet flat on the floor. Rest your hands on your thighs, with the palms facing up. Slowly close your hands into fists, but don’t clench them. Without taking your arms off your legs, bend your wrists to pull your fists toward your body. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then slowly lower your fists and spread your fingers wide.

Table Press

Sit at a dining table or office desk and put your hands underneath. With your palms facing up, press upward against the bottom until you feel a stretch. Keep pushing against the table or desk for 5 to 10 seconds, then relax.

Figure Eights

Clasp your hands together, with your fingers intertwined, and tuck your elbows in at your sides. Without moving your upper arms, move your hands and wrists in a figure eight motion. Rotate the wrists fully for 10 to 15 seconds, then rest.

Wrist Rotation

Sit down in an armchair and rest your wrists on the chair’s arms, palms facing up. Without moving your elbows, slowly rotate your forearms so that your palms are facing down. Repeat the movements, rotating your wrists 5 to 10 times.

If you have any concerns about current or previous wrist injuries or problems with your fingers, hands or wrists, consult with a hand doctor before trying any new exercises. Also, if you experience any pain, numbness or tingling while exercising, stop immediately and schedule a professional medical evaluation.

For expert advice on treating and preventing wrist injuries, schedule an appointment with Dr. J. Douglas Burrows, at the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence (CORE). Contact our West Valley City office today to learn about how to ward off wrist injuries.

Is Gamer’s Thumb a Real Hand Injury?

Gamer’s thumb is a very real hand injury.

Sure, the condition may sound silly — who would believe you could suffer an injury playing video games?

gamers thumb

In truth, video game hand injuries are nothing new. For years, hardcore gamers have sought treatment for musculoskeletal disorders and repetitive stress injuries. This condition is one of the most often reported problems related to excessive video gaming, and a fairly common type of hand injury.

What Is Gamer’s Thumb?

Also known as De Quervain’s tendinosis, this condition is a repetitive stress injury.

Most video game controllers are designed to put the brunt of the activity on the thumbs. Pound away on a game controller for hours at a time, day after day, and the rapid, repetitive movements will take a toll on the tendons at the thumb side of the wrist.

De Quervain’s tendinosis occurs when these tendons become irritated or constricted. Symptoms of this hand injury may include pain and swelling at the base of the thumb, a “catching” or “sticking” feeling during thumb movement and difficulties with thumb and wrist mobility.

How Is Gamer’s Thumb Treated?

Initial treatment for this hand injury involves staying completely away from the controller. Scaling back on your game playing isn’t going to be enough to alleviate your symptoms.

Other conservative measures — including using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), splints and corticosteroid injections into the tendon sheath — can also be effective treatments for De Quervain’s tendinosis.

If symptoms are severe or don’t improve with conservative treatments, your hand doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery can relieve the pressure on the tendons, allowing them to glide freely without pain.

Can You Prevent Gamer’s Thumb?

With the right video gaming strategies, you may be able to avoid suffering a hand injury.

Experts suggest limiting daily game time to two hours or less. Regular breaks are also important. And when you put the controller down, work on thumb stretching exercises. If you start to feel pain at any time during your game sessions, stop playing immediately.

Using good posture and maintaining your core strength with daily exercise can also take much of the strain off the smaller upper-extremity muscles and help prevent hand injury.

Do you think you might have De Quervain’s tendinosis? To find out, you’ll need to consult with an experienced hand doctor, as other hand problems can share similar symptoms.

For an expert evaluation of your condition, visit the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence. Dr. J. Douglas Burrows, a leading northern Utah hand doctor for over 20 years, has the knowledge, training and skills to diagnose and treat your hand injury. Contact our West Valley City office to schedule a gamer’s thumb consultation today.

How Does a Hand Doctor Treat Trigger Finger?

Can a hand doctor help with trigger finger?

If one of your fingers is locked in a bent position, or if you feel pain and a popping sensation when you straighten the digit, you need a professional evaluation.

trigger-finger

Hand doctors typically consider a range of treatment options, depending upon the severity and duration of the finger problem.

Rest and Medication

Rest is often the initial treatment for mild cases of trigger finger. Avoiding activities that require repeated gripping and refraining from using vibrating hand-held machinery may be enough to relieve symptoms.

For patients with pain, a hand doctor may recommend over-the-counter medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen are usually effective at relieving finger pain and stiffness.

Corticosteroid Injection

If symptoms are more severe, a corticosteroid injection is frequently considered the treatment of choice.

Injecting a steroid medication into or near the tendon sheath relaxes the finger stiffness and allows the digit to glide freely again. A single injection can often resolve the problem, but some patients may require a second visit to the hand doctor for another dose.

Splinting

Splinting has a reputation as an ineffective treatment for trigger finger, but studies have shown that wearing a custom-made splint for 6 to 10 weeks can improve symptoms.

Custom-made splinting typically holds the middle joint of the affected finger in a slightly bent position, about 10 to 15 degrees of flexion. A hand doctor may advise using a splint in addition to or instead of corticosteroid injections.

Trigger Finger Release Surgery

Trigger digits can usually be successfully managed through the use of local steroid injections and splinting. However, when these conservative measures fail to correct the problem, a hand doctor may recommend surgery.

Trigger finger release is an outpatient procedure that is done under a local anesthetic. Working through a small palm incision — around 1 or 2 centimeters — a hand surgeon cuts and widens the opening of the tendon sheath tunnel. After the tunnel has healed, the tendon has the extra space it needs to move freely.

Complete recovery can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. But most patients are able to move the affected finger immediately after surgery. If finger stiffness was severe before the procedure, physical therapy or hand exercises may be advised.

Don’t put off treating your trigger finger — without proper care from an experienced hand doctor, you may end up with permanent stiffness, pain and an inability to straighten the affected digit. The sooner you seek out professional advice, the sooner you’ll regain hand function.

For expert treatment for all types of hand and finger problems, residents of northern Utah rely on the professionals at the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence. To meet with Dr. J. Douglas Burrows, a highly skilled hand doctor with expertise in tendon conditions, contact our West Valley City office and schedule a trigger finger consultation today.