UW Medicine Hand Center
A Passion for Life & Healing

Post-Op Instructions for Trigger Finger Release

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  • Wound Care

    The incision for trigger finger is fairly small. It runs along the distal palmar crease, in the palm at the base of the affected finger.

    • Your finger will be placed in a dressing (bandage) after surgery.
    • 3 days after surgery, you may remove the dressing and 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 3 days by covering your hand with a plastic bag when showering. After 3 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 and fingers may swell. Use an ice pack for up to 20 minutes at a time over the surgical site to help ease swelling. Be sure to place a thin cloth between your skin and the ice pack to protect your skin.
    • Elevate your hand as much as possible to lessen swelling and pain.

    Pain Management

    • You will receive a prescription for narcotic pain medicine. Take this medicine only if you need it.
    • Be sure to talk with the clinic nurse about how to take your pain medicine. To best manage your pain, you must take your pain medicine 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 medicine, call the nurse at 206-598-4263.
    • Please see “Medications After Surgery” for more instructions.


    • Do not drive if you are taking narcotic pain medicine. It is not safe. The medicine can make you sleepy and delay your reaction time.
    • Once you are no longer taking the medicine, you may drive as soon as you can comfortably grip the steering wheel with both hands.


    • You can use your hand for daily tasks such as getting dressed, typing, combing your hair, preparing food, 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 .45 kilogram) until your sutures have been removed.
    • Avoid heavy repetitive activities, such as hammering, for 4 weeks. These will increase scarring after surgery and lower your chances of a full recovery.
    • You may do light aerobic exercises as soon as 1 or 2 days after surgery. Avoid any heavy lifting, such as weight lifting, until 4 weeks after surgery.


    When you leave the surgery center, you should have a follow-up appointment at Roosevelt Hand Therapy or at Eastside Specialty Center in Bellevue 2 weeks after surgery. At this visit:

    • Your sutures will be removed.
    • You may meet with a occupational therapist to learn exercises that will lessen scarring around the incision and help increase your hand strength and range of motion. One therapy visit is usually enough to teach you a home-exercise program.
    • After your sutures are removed, you can increase your activities as tolerated. But, try to avoid heavy repetitive activities such as hammering until 4 weeks after surgery.


    Most patients who have trigger finger or trigger thumb release surgery regain full use of their hand with full return of motion and strength.