Melbourne Hand Surgery 


Latest news: Masks are and will remain mandatory when you attend our practice in person, and we request that you log your attendance via our Victorian Government QR code, by entering location code 3D7RE3 into the Services Victoria App or by writing your details on the physical register at our reception.

In accordance with the current COVID peak (black) status consultations are now being conducted via videoconference, with in person consultations by exception. Hospital elective surgery is limited to Category 1 and urgent 2A surgeries only. All individuals undergoing elective surgery are required to obtain a negative COVID test within 72 hours of their scheduled surgery and must self-isolate from the time of their test until their hospital admission. Dr Tomlinson is operating at The Avenue and Glenferrie Private. 

Videoconsultations are conducted via telehealth at our dedicated virtual clinic to maximise patient and staff safety. For in person consultations we have enhanced hygiene measures in our rooms including acrylic screens, masks, hand sanitiser, face shields and physical distancing-related changes. We require that all patients provide a referral prior to booking an appointment so that we can identify and manage urgent and emergency conditions in a timely manner, and so that our surgeons can assess your suitability for a telehealth appointment and identify any further information or tests that might be required before your consultation.      If you are eligible to get vaccinated, please do so. 

Trigger finger and thumb

Trigger finger is a very common condition that causes pain and/or locking of the affected finger. The affected finger is usually able to be bent into a fist with the other fingers, but when the hand is straightened the affected finger straightens with a "click' or visible give, or it stays bent. Triggering of the thumb (trigger thumb) can also occur.

In the excellent video below Dr Kerrigan explains about the symptoms and treatment of trigger finger (both non-surgical and surgical). Note: this video is from the United States, so the names of the pain medications mentioned will likely be unfamiliar to you.


Most cases of trigger are not due to anything in particular, but trigger finger is more common in people with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, pregnancy, diabetes, hypothyroidism and end stage kidney disease.


Your hand surgeon will be able to diagnose the condition by talking to you and examining your finger. No X-rays or special tests are required.

Injection treatment

injectionsyringehandCorticosteroid injections are commonly used to treat trigger finger. Up to three injections are given, spaced 6-12 weeks apart. Injection therapy is very successful and is done as an office procedure. A single needle is placed through the palm, near the base of the affected finger(s). Time off work is not required.

It can be beneficial to wear a splint on the affected finger to reduce pain and minimise inflammation while the corticosteroid injection is taking effect. Wearing a splint may help to resolve the problem in the early stages.

What is it like to have the injections?

The following video was created by NSW Hand Surgeon Stuart Myers to teach general practitioners how to administer injections for trigger fingers. It shows a patient having an injection and also describes the anatomical basis of trigger finger. Please note: this video shows a medical procedure (trigger finger injection).


Percutaneous trigger finger release

Trigger finger release can be performed as an office procedure using a percutaneous (no incision) technique. A local anaesthetic injection is administered to numb the treatment area, and a needle is passed through the skin to release the "pulley". Not all patients who have trigger finger or trigger thumb are suitable for the percutaneous technique, but it is an effective treatment that allows some patients to avoid having to go to hospital for surgery. 

In the following video Dr Donald Ditmars talks about percutaneous trigger finger release and demonstrates the procedure on a patient. Please note that this video shows a medical procedure (including some bleeding):


At Melbourne Hand Surgery we ask all patients to lie down for a percutaneous trigger finger and thumb release. We use a smaller needle to perform the release than is shown in this video and we apply a less bulky dressing. Because local anaesthetic is administered to your hand you will not be able to drive home after this procedure, but you can take a taxi or use public transport - or have a friend or family member take you home. 

Open surgical treatment

Trigger finger release surgery is performed through a 2cm incision on the palm with extremely high success rates. It is performed as day case surgery and can be done as wide awake hand surgery. The triggering is cured immediately with surgery and recurrence in the same finger is extremely unlikely.

woman in rain yellow jacket handsThe incision needs to be kept clean and dry for approximately one week after surgery. I recommend keeping your hand elevated where possible during this time to minimise swelling and speed recovery. Post operative pain is generally minimal, with any discomfort being satisfactorily managed with paracetamol. Your hand is not immobilised after surgery.

What can go wrong (complications)?

It is uncommon to have complications from trigger finger surgery. Possible complications include infection, damage to nearby structures (the digital arteries, digital nerves and tendon), failure to improve, pain, scarring, skin contour irregularities, allergy, bleeding, changed skin sensation and unsatisfactory results.


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