Trigger Thumb

About Trigger Thumb

Trigger thumb in children occurs within the first year of life, but is often not noticed until the child is older.

In approximately ⅓ of children with trigger thumb it gets better by the age of 18 months. There is a swelling that can be felt at the base of the thumb.

The thumb sometimes clicks, causing some pain, but is otherwise pain free. The thumb may also get stuck in a bent position.

It is not know exactly why it occurs, but is thought to be a size mismatch between the flexor tendon of the thumb and the A1 pulley, a fibrous band under which the tendon glides.

When the A1 pulley is too tight, the tendon becomes irritated leading to triggering.

Non Surgical Treatment

Trigger thumb may resolve spontaneously but this is very unusual after one year of age. Surgery is usually recommended for children over the age of one year. This involves release of the A1 pulley.


Surgery is by an incision at the base of the thumb.

The pulley is visualised and divided, allowing the tendon to move freely.


When should I consider surgery to treat trigger thumb in a infant?

Surgery should be considered after one year of age as occasionally the condition resolves itself spontaneously up until the age of one, but this is very unlikely to occur after the age of one.

Is trigger thumb in infants hereditary?

No. Although trigger thumb is often called congenital, evidence suggests that it does not appear at birth.

Is it common for trigger thumb to occur in both hands?

Approximately one quarter of infants who have trigger thumb have it in both hands.

How long is recovery post surgery?

The vast majority of infants make a quick recovery and complications are unusual.

The procedure is usually performed in hospital as a day surgery under general anaesthetic.A bulky dressing is applied after surgery which is usually left intact for up to 2 weeks. No splints are required.

Is recurrence of trigger thumb after surgery common?

A resumption of triggering after surgery is very unusual.

Medical terms

Stenosing Tenosynovitis:  Trigger thumb (or finger)

Synovectomy:  Removal of tissue

Node:  Swelling or enlargement involving a mass of tissue


Our Surgeons & Anaesthetists charge out of pocket fees for surgery done in the private hospital.

Because the length and complexity of the different surgical techniques are so vast, you will be given an estimate of costings after your consultation.

For more information on fees and rebates please visit the fee section on the FAQ page.

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Randwick Plastic Surgery