Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Congenital Trigger Thumb -or- My Child Can't Straighten her Thumbs


We noticed that my daughter (4 year old) had thumbs that didn't completely straighten a year or two ago. She really can not straighten them past what you see in the above picture. That's pretty much her "thumbs up." We thought at first that is was just a cute deformity and did not feel the need to pursue the issue. It wasn't until this year when my daughter started experiencing pain in one of her thumbs that we started to get concerned.

The pain didn't seem to have a real impetus. My daughter would be playing out of my sight and then she'd come to me crying and holding her thumb. I'd ask her what happened, and she wasn't sure. She had just used her thumb in such a way that it caused pain. The pain didn't usually go away right away. Sometimes it was just for 5 or 10 minutes, and once it took a whole hour. The pain was intense enough that she never allowed me to touch it, but it did go away on it's own, probably because she got distracted enough for whatever was out of wack to move back to the right place.

I started looking for answers by asking a nurse at my daughter's well-child visit. She looked at my daughter's thumbs and said that she was probably just really double jointed. That made very little sense to me. If it was normal, why was she having pain? That's when I tried to look it up online. I know doctors hate it when people try to self-diagnose using the internet, but I've had a lot of luck with it and I don't seem to have a lot of luck with doctors. It's not always easy to self-diagnose when you don't even know what terminology to use. I searched using terms like: child's thumb won't straighten, bent thumbs... and finally I stumbled across this website which had a picture of a child's thumb that looked a lot like my daughter's. It also named the problem: Trigger Thumb. So, I started looking up more information on trigger thumb. While my daughter's case didn't seem to fit all the criteria of a classic case, she did fit enough of it for me to want to take her to another doctor.

So, next we saw my daughter's pediatrician. She agreed with me that something was wrong, but she'd never seen this before, so she instructed me to see a pediatric specialist out of Denver. I asked her about trigger thumb. She said that we could use that as the working diagnosis, but she wanted to have the specialist give me an official one.

Today we drove to see the specialist. It took him no time at all to diagnose it, and sure enough, it's congenital trigger thumb. It normally resolves itself in most cases by the time the child is 4 or 5, but after that, outpatient surgery is usually necessary. My lucky daughter gets to have surgery on both thumbs. This means 3 weeks in casts too. Lucky me.

Here's some helpful website about the surgery and what it entails: http://www.handuniversity.com/topics.asp?Topic_ID=28

I'm writing about this because there isn't a lot online in the way of personal stories about it. Since congenital trigger thumb occurs in 2% of hand problems in children, it is not completely unheard of, but not completely common either.

To read the post about the surgery, click here.
To read a later post about preparing for the surgery, click here

109 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this, we're going throu a similar situation with our 2 year old son. I'm going to take him to see the GP next week. What you have discribed is exactly how our toddler behaves and his thumbs are almost identical

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  2. Thank you so much for your blog post! I noticed my daughter's thumbs wouldn't straighten when she was a newborn and I too thought it was cute and something that would go away on it's own and I tended to forget about it and notice it only on occassion. She is now 21 months old and I was getting concerned. I'll be making her a doctor appointment today. Thank you!

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  3. You are welcome, Lis and Sarah. I am glad you are getting the info. I hope things go well as you look for answers to help your child.

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  4. my daughter is 3 years old and I noticed a few months ago her thumb is like this too. I took her to the pediatrician and they said it looks like trigger thumb. I have an appointment at the surgeon this month. I was told that they sometimes will loosen and snap back up...her thumb has straightened up twice in the past 2 months, but then gets tightened and gets stuck down again. Hoping that the surgeon will tell me that it will heal on its own and surgery is not needed. Thanks for posting this blog!

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  5. I hope your daughter doesn't have to have surgery. But, if it is necessary, it's quite minor. I'm hoping my daughter will thank me for it later. :)

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  6. I recently noticed that my 2 year old daughter had a thumb that wouldn't straighten out. She was born 15 weeks premature, so I figured it may have something to do with that, since she was only 1 pound at birth. I will be making a call to her dr about this...thank for the insight!

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  7. Just found your blog as my 3 year dd was diagonsed w/trigger thumbs today. We have an appt w/a surgeon next week. The cast part scares me to death. :( Thank you for sharing your story.

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  8. Tanya,
    Both thumbs, huh? Some surgeons don't do hard casts... they might use a soft one or no casts at all, encouraging them to use their thumbs shortly after surgery (depending on factors I'm not familiar with--a doctor thing, I guess). At any rate, I am sure all will go well with you and your 3-year-old.

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  9. My daughter is five in two months and has one thumb that she was born with like this it has never bothered her but it came to my attemtion again yesterday and I thought I better check it out, did some searching online and found this blog.. I will go and have it seen to now, thanks Lee

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  10. Glad I posted my info about this... apparently it's getting read by people who are looking for it! Please, those of you who have have had children who have had this surgery, feel free to tell us about your experience as well.

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    1. Omg !thank you for this i google the same thing , and your blog popped up., i hv a VERY VERY. Smart active 3yr old that ive noticed his thumb cnt straighten , i honestlt thought he popped it out of place given hes always climbing something , i felt like a horrible mother for not noticing this , he has an appt with his pediatrician , and will make my demands andwill see a specialist aswell thnk you !

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  11. Hi! Thank you so much for posting this. I've had trigger thumbs for as long as i can remember and I just turned 18. I always just thought I had quirky thumbs, not an actual condition. I finallly got tired of doing things a little differently than everybody else and started searching google for some answers and your site was the first to come up. I researched trigger thumb a little more and I knew I had found my answer. I went to the doctor and she showed me off to the whole team; everyone was so shocked my thumbs had gone so long without being noticed (they were almost to the point of being locked in a bent positiion...as in no straightening whatsoever). I had my surgery in early November and I am loving my new thumbs. It's been very weird having to relearn to do things like write and pick stuff but i absolutely love the flexibility and strentgh I get out of "normal" thumbs. Although sometimes I miss my unique thumbs, I'm so happy I had the surgery and I can't tell you enough how thankful I am you posted such a well-titled article for people like me who have no idea trigger thumb exists.

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    1. Thank you for posting this. Both of my son's thumbs are bent and I have been trying to weigh the benefits vs the cons and wondering if it would really cause him any issues. Your story shows me that it did cause you issues. Thanks!

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  12. Anonymous,
    Thank you for your fantastic story. It really could help people make the decision to have the surgery who may be sitting on the fence. When I took my daughter in, the doctor said that it wasn't a surgery she HAD to have, but you have clearly explained the benefits of getting it. Having normal thumbs really changes the way you do things! Again, thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you for posting, we just discovered this in our 2 yr old daughter this week, only one thumb. I guess we're headed to the doctor. Good luck with your daughter's surgery.

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  13. I read your experience with great interest as I too was born with this condition. I had an operation at the age of 3 years to have my thumbs straightened and have never had any problems since (this was in the late 1950's). Apart from the bother of having both hands in plaster up to my elbows and the indignation of being spoon fed at the age of 3, I cannot remember any trauma from being hospitalised. So other parents/people please be reassured that it's well worth pursuing a consultation with your GP for referral for surgery as my mother did all those years ago.

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  14. Mary,
    Thanks! I have wondered what the future will be like for my daughter. Will her thumbs have problems again? Your comments are reassuring. I have at least one other daughter who will be having the surgery as well. I plan on her having it done when she's three. Having already gone through this once, I feel a bit more prepared to do it again.

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  15. Thanks for all the info! This is so weird. My son is 3 and i just recently noticed when practicing counting his thumb wont straighten! How could i not have noticed this after knowing him 3 years??? Hope it straightens out in the next 2 years. Who knew there was such a thing? or what to call it??? Thanks again. This site was very helpful!

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  16. Glad this was helpful. I like hearing from others. We are not alone! :) Food for thought: If your child's thumb really won't straighten as opposed to triggering and then releasing, you might want to go ahead an have a doctor evaluate it. As in my daughter's situation, it was completely locked, with no prospect of correcting itself, so surgery was the only way to get it to straighten.

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  17. Hi just thought I would say that my daughter who is coming up for 3 in April is at this moment in time waiting for a date for an operation on her left thumb. We noticed something wasn't right one lunchtime when she was eating it looked like her thumb was dislocated because she had a huge lump where her thumb meets her palm of her hand. She was 2 at the time. Took her to doctors, they referred us to A&E then eventually they diagnosed trigger thumb. They said it should straighten on its own but 7-8 months down the line nothing was happening. I decided to get referred back to hospital. We walked in they took one look and said 'no it's not going to straighten she will have to have an operation'. Really pleased I got referred back but still worried as it's going to be done under general anesthetic but can't wait for her to be able to do things normally.

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  18. I am so scared.. I too have a daughter with two thumbs like that. I have her schedule for a sugery in two weeks. I'm scare..I've waited for a year for it to staighten out..it didn't. I first found out it was like this a yr. ago when she had a little accident. I want to make sure that this sugery will be safe. I just want to make sure that this sugery is the right choice for my daughter. The sad part is that sometimes my daughter's thumbs hurt, so that's why I've decided to no longer wait for it to straighten, and go ahead with the surgery. How did the sugery for with everybody's child???? I want to know....
    Scared mom

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  19. Anonymous, Hopefully some of the comments on this post can help alleviate some of the worry that comes with having your child get surgery. I found it helpful to find out as much as I could from the hospital and doctor about surgery preparation and the surgery itself, then letting my child know about it in general terms that she could understand. For instance, instead of saying the doctor would "cut" the shaft to release the trigger, I said he would "fix" her thumb so that she could bend it up and down. The outcome is worth it, I think.

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  20. Hi Hundrum Hero, Many thanks for the info. My son has the same symptom as your daughter. I just realized it yesterday. Straight away, I took him to orthopedic specialist and I'm lucky because the doctor is well verse with trigger thumb. He advised me to google for infos and I did.

    My son is scheduled to undergo minor surgery to fix his thumb on next Monday. Hopefully it went alright.

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  21. From what I have read, trigger thumb accounts for 2% of hand problems in children, not in 2% of all children. Therefore, it is a little bit obscure and you shouldn't feel that your pediatrician needs to go back to school.
    Source: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site1025/mainpageS1025P0.html

    Thanks for helping to bring some more information out on this. I was doing the exact same searches on 'thumb won't straighten' when I found your site and it helped me refine my search. My child's first appointment to have it looked at is next week.

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  22. Anonymous, I find it strange that you suggest that I "felt my pediatrician needs to go back to school." On the contrary, I was very pleased with my daughter's pediatrician for admitting that she didn't know what it was and that she referred us to a specialist. But you are correct, I mis-typed the 2% figure (as I used the same source as you shared). Thank you for clarifying. I'll change it.

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  23. I was born with bilateral (both sides) trigger thumb. My thumbs could not be lifted from my palms from birth. My parents had it fixed when I was 15 months old. I'm now 33 years old and no problems except for some clicking in my thumb joints (non painful) and some small scars. Best to all of you who are going through this with your children-it all turns out fine!

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  24. I just discovered that my son's left thumb won't straighten out.It looks like its locked into position. We just noticed it last night. I made an appointment with his doctor today. The symtoms you described are exactly the same. Will wait to hear what his doctor says. Thanks for your blog post. It really helped

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  25. Hello from Seattle. My son fell today and only then by checking him did I notice this in both his thumbs. I thought to myself there is no way he could have had this prior as I feel I have touched and held his hands many times.
    I will make an appointment next week with the Dr, but this blog is certainly reassuring. I hope this does not sound mean but I actually tugged and pulled them both back out only to find later they re triggered back. I noticed discomfort so i won't do it again, he is 2.5 years old so it looks like we have some time.

    Thanks

    -

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  26. Holy trigger thumbs! Who knew that so many kiddos had this issue? Thanks for sharing. And I don't think you are mean for trying to straighten you child's thumb. I tried, but was never successful.

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    1. My sons thumb has been getting stuck like this lately. Today he was in his high chair and it got stuck and he started crying and pulling on it. It was breaking my heart cause i didnt know what to do. I didnt want to try to pop it back into place because i didnt really know how, so i panicked and stuck it in my mouth. He started laughing and believe it or not, it worked! It went back into place. We had to do this twice more today. Obviously im gonna take him to the doctor, but today is Saturday so were out of luck til monday. If this happens to your little one and their frantically trying to bend it back into place, tell them to suck their thumb. Im not a doctor but i hope this helps someone!

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    2. This made me crack up! That sounds like something I would do. I just noticed tonight that my sons left thumb wouldn't straighten and I have cut his nails and held his hands a thousand times, so I know its new. I can actually open the thumb and kind of stretch it gently for a few min and it will straighten, but eventually it bends back down. Its actually pretty minor but it still worries me. Did your sons thumb end up working itself out or does he need surgery? All of the other posts are from 2011, so I thought I had the best shot of you responding. Thanks!

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  27. My daughter has this too and we were referred to a specialist in Denver too, but haven't made an appointment yet. I'm 3 hours from Denver and am wondering how many visits we might be making. Did you have a good experience with your dr there?

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  28. Hi Jeremee,
    The specialist we saw was actually able to meet us for an evaluation in a Colo Springs office he worked at on occasion, which was an hour closer for us. The surgery itself was in Denver and then we had a follow up appointment with the specialist, also in Colo Springs after the casts were removed. We were very happy with the doctor we used and the Denver Children's hospital. They nurses gave my daughter a Barbie doll after the surgery and she was delighted! Email me at humdrumhero@gmail.com if you want more specifics. I'd be happy to share.

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  29. My daughter was also diagnosed with trigger thumb. She will be 2 1/2 in January. we are scheduled for surgery this friday (December 9 2011) in Ontario, Canada. Hope all goes well!

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  30. I hope it goes well too! I'm sure others would be interested to hear how it goes for you. Best to you.

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  31. Thanks for the blog post. Its nice to hear others have similar stories. My son is 16 mo. old and we just discovered this but believe he's had it for 6mo. or so. I felt like s horrible mother at first for not noticing but it seems that is par for the course. We are consulting an Ortho this week. Does anyone wait to have the surgery? And if so are there any long term negatives to waiting like the nodule getting bigger? Does the nodule go away after surgery? I also read it's only 3 in 1000 births. That's .3% of the population!

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  32. Hi! Congrats on noticing your son's thumbs at just 16 months! :) Let me try to answer your questions to the best of my ability. Most doctors like the child to be at least two years old before surgery. You can talk to your Ortho about that. For instance, I noticed that my second daughter's thumbs locked when she was 18 months. I called the Ortho and he said to wait until she was two or three to do surgery. The surgery involves cutting the sheath that the tendon slides through in order to straighten the thumb. There is normally no attempt made to remove the nodule since tendons are very delicate. So, it's basically just a matter of making the pathway bigger so that the tendon with the nodule can slide through. I haven't noticed the nodules get bigger on either of my daughters, but that is a good question to ask the Ortho when you meet with him/her. Hope things go well with that appointment! Take care.

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  33. Just wondering how the recovery went for you daughter? was she in much pain after and what did they give her for the pain after you left the hospital?

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  34. Complete recovery takes about 3-6 weeks, and with my other daughter that had soft bandages instead of a cast, I think it is a bit faster recovery. My girls really didn't have a problem with pain. The doctor prescribed Tylenol with a codeine elixir, and while we filled the prescription both times, we ended up throwing it away. Regular Tylenol worked just fine for them, and I didn't give more than two doses. Every kid is different though. I just finished a new post on preparing for the surgery. Feel free to check that out: http://humdrumhero.blogspot.com/2011/12/preparing-for-trigger-thumb-surgery.html
    Take care!

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  35. Thanks for writing about this! It is nice to have a human story to accompany all the scientific internet information. My daughter is 4 and her thumb has been "clicking out" for about a year (that I've noticed), though more frequently in the past two months. Ortho suggested surgery but that I could wait if I weren't comfortable with this. Of course I'd rather not have her undergo surgery (general anesthetic), but I'm wondering what the long term repercussions of not doing so would be. Her thumb looks mildly bent, which I just noticed seems to be a permanent state today. Does anyone know of a case where a child with trigger thumb went untreated?

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  36. I am so glad I found your post about this. Just before Christmas I was doing a little Christmas Project with my Son who just turned three. I went to do his hand print and noticed his right thumb would not extend. Thought it was really strange. I had NEVER noticed it before. I felt horrible as a mom that I had never noticed. Well a few days later we were talking to some family about it and showing them and just out of Curiosity I decided to check my 5 year old daughter and low and behold she has it to but on her left thumb. SO STRANGE! I am taking both of them into the pediatrician this week to have it checked out and see where we will go from there. I am SOOO glad you have posted about this.

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  37. In response to the anonymous comment asking if anyone knows of a case where trigger thumb went untreated, you can read the comment left here by an 18 year old (I'm guessing it's a female), posted on December 31, 2010. The commenter said she went 18 years with trigger thumbs before she got it diagnosed and had the surgery. And I would venture to guess that a lot of cases go untreated. It's not life threatening, and one can learn to live with it, but like the our 18 year old commenter wrote, she really likes having normal thumbs.

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  38. In response to the Wilson Family, you've got two with trigger thumb too? :) How special!!! If you choose to have your kids do the surgery, you might be interested in some of my other posts about trigger thumbs. You can use the Google search option on my blog. I hope it goes well for you.

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    1. Post a follow up from my Sept 30th post. Located in Seattle and we ended up having our child looked at and surgery was done last month on both thumbs. He was 2 and the hardest part was having him put under and the anxiety on our part that came with that.

      I was with him when he went under and the procedure on both thumbs was under 30 minutes. The bandages came off after day 2 and my son really was just fine on the second day.

      To all parents reading this blog rest assured your child will be fine, Thanks to the Blog writer for this page as a resource for parents seeking out information on this procedure.

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    2. Thank you for sharing your experience with the many out there who will read it. Take care.

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    3. My daughter is 2 yrs 6months and her left thumb in not straightening and now this morning her right thumb again has the same problem only this time she is crying, I didn't take notice at first but now that she is crying im worried. Will she be okay? She is a very active child she forgets that she can't straighten her thumbs when playing only when she has pains will she remember but doesn't want me to touch her, she shows me where the pain is. I'm going to see her doctor tomorrow im worried sick

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    4. Good for you for going to see a doctor. I know it is pretty hard us parents to see our little ones hurting. If it is trigger thumb, rest assured it is treatable, and she'll be okay. If she is in continual pain though, talk to a nurse to see what you can do to manage the pain until she sees a doctor. Take care!

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  39. Thank you all for posting your stories. I just noticed last night that my 2 year old sons right thumb is locked in the bent position it won't straighten at all. I'm thinking now that it's been this way for about a year bc now looking back when we were teaching him to do "thumbs up" his thumb was bent then, but we figured he was just holding it that way. I feel terrible for just now noticing this. I'm trying to find out as much as I can before taking him to his pediatrician tomorrow. It's good to hear that the surgery has a good success rate and that recovery is pretty quick. I'm sure that's what is going to have to be done for him to be able to straighten it. I just want him to be able to use his thumb, he is right handed and I worry it will effect how he holds a pencil when it's time for him to go to school.

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    1. :) Don't feel bad about not noticing your child's fingers. I remember my pediatrician felt bad that she didn't notice because I had taken her to all her well-child visits and the pediatrician never noticed it. It took me a while to notice it on my daughter too. We take our our digits for granted, huh?

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  40. Hi! Thanks for making this post; on Wikipedia the article about trigger thumbs says that it's usually found as a work-related condition in adults, so it's great to have this post and its comments as confirmation that congenital trigger thumb actually exists!

    I've had a trigger thumb on my left hand all my life (I'm 24 years old now). I'm right-handed, so my trigger thumb doesn't cause me any trouble at all! I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. Most of the time I don't even remember it, except when I need to put a left thumbprint on a legal form. I can't make a thumbprint with my thumb bent, so I have to 'snap' it straight. ;)

    Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for the article and contribute my story about untreated trigger thumb! If any parents are worried about a trigger thumb on their child's non-dominant hand, my advice is not to worry too much about it. :)

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    1. Thanks for your story. This sort of information is useful to all of us who have to make decisions about this! :)

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  41. Wow, I can't believe how many families out there have a little one with a trigger thumb?? I just noticed my daughters last night...it is both her thumbs...she is 20 months old. They are completely straight and will not pop or snap in and out...I had a trigger thumb that was noticed when I was 2 years old (wondering if it is a hereditary thing?)...my parents decided to monitor it and not do the surgery...mine corrected itself and I have no issues with it now!! But I am worried that my daughters won't because mine would pop into the correct position where my daughters won't do that?? I am going to make an appt for her to see our family doctor and get the ball rolling....I feel so bad for her and that I didn't notice it before now??? But they don't seem to bother her at all...and she has great dexterity for her age!! Thanks for posting this!!

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    1. I have twins (fraternal) girls and they both exhibit both cases that you talk about. One twin had both thumbs lock completely at around 18 months-old and the other twin had thumbs that sometimes locked, but could straighten out, for a few months before the issue resolved itself. So, one twin ended up getting surgery and the other did not. But, yes, heredity does play a factor in this. My husband has the tell-tale nodule at the base of his thumb joint (as do all my daughters) but hasn't had any problems with his thumb triggering... yet. His doctor says he'll likely have issues when he gets older since arthritis runs in the family.

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  42. Thank you for posting this information about trigger thumb! I just noticed that my 2 year old is unable to straighten one of her thumbs and was feeling uneasy about what it possibly could be from!It doesn't seem to bother her at this point but I'll be checking in with the doctor during our next appointment!!

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  43. I bet you never expected your blog post to get this much attention. Our family just noticed my 3 year old son appears to have this very issue and your blog was one of the first websites to turn up any mention of it. Anyway, we expect to receive confirmation from a doctor shortly that this indeed is the diagnosis. The difference with our son is that he doesn't complain of any pain.

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  44. I had surgery on both my thumbs for trigger thumb when I was around 2. I'm now 32 and have had zero issues even with weightlifting. Now my son, who's 2, has one thumb that won't straighten. We'll probably have to get him checked soon. Must have been passed down from me. I wish everyone the best.

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  45. Just discovered my daughter has this last night. I was trying to do a thumbs up pose and noticed I couldn't straighten her thumbs. She is 2 1/2. Then I found this blog, very informative. Made her a doctor appointment for today.

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  46. Thank you for sharing your story! Our daughter has trigger thumb, first noticed at 3 months and now she is 20 months. We have waited on surgery, despite it remaining locked for nearly a year now (except for two times straightening and giving us hope for spontaneous recovery), mostly out of fear of anesthesia. We are also in the Denver area. Who did the surgery? We have been scheduled with Dr. Scott at Children's twice now and have postponed. I think we will go for it after her second birthday, as I'm getting nervous about her bones growing in a curved position since it has been locked for so long.

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    1. Our doctor was Mark Erickson. We liked him. He was very competent and personable as well. I hope that things go smoothly for you guys with the surgery. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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    2. A follow-up on my post: DD is now 27 months old. Trigger thumb was locked in a bent position from when I first noticed it at three months until two years of age. Never bothered her up until that point. At two it locked in a straightened position and now causes her some pain. When it was locked bent, she had limited mobility. Now, locked straight, she has no mobility. We are as ready as we will be and are scheduled for surgery at TCH Denver on Friday (day after tomorrow). She's old enough now to talk about it and knows the "doctor will fix it...because its stuck". So nervous, especially about the anesthesia but moving forward. Can't thank you enough for this blog, your posts, and forum for comments.

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    3. I'm hoping that you all handle the surgery and recovery well. Sounds like you are all as ready as you can be. Jump in!

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    4. We are now 8 days post-op. TCH Denver was amazing and everything went smoothly. Waiting was tough on us parents. We were originally scheduled for 10:30am, then it was pushed to noon, and finally went into the OR at 12:45pm. Had dreaded the fasting; however, we had talked to our daughter enough in advance that she didn't ask for food all morning or drinks after the cutoff time. My husband and I took her into the OR and held her while she went to sleep. Very hard to see her like that. We were only in the waiting room for 35 minutes before we were reunited. Our daughter was really confused and nearly inconsolable. We still breastfeed and it was so helpful to help comfort her while she woke up. Since surgery fell at her normal nap time, she was doubly tired and napped in recovery for over three hours. Staff left us to snuggle with her, checking in intermittently and we were allowed to go home after she was awake and alert. Prescription meds made her really nutty, singing songs, and we opted not to give it again. She was really excited about her "pink mitten" soft bandage. We took the bandage off at 5 days post-op and were somewhat surprised by how it looked. Much like what you mentioned in your other post, I think my daughter, husband, and myself had to adjust after seeing the incision and stitches. She held her hand out as if the bandage was still on and was careful to move her thumb. Now, a few days later, things are healing well and she's using her thumb freely. With winter cold season and seeing people for the holidays, she did pick up a cold a few days ago. Might be something to consider when scheduling this time of year. Overall a positive experience and we are so happy we went through with the surgery. Having known about surgery for over 18 months, I hardly know what we will do with ourselves without this hanging over our heads ;) That being said, it was really right for us to wait until our daughter was older so we could talk with her about the surgery and what to expect.

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    5. Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm so glad to hear that things went well! And I'm sure others will be glad shared your experience. Thanks!

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  47. while i'm not too scared about this it bothers me to read that so many are getting this done at a later age than what's being recommended for my son. we discovered this at like 8 months and the doc told us to wait 6 more until surgery because he doesn't want to put a kid that young under anethesia.

    SO.....appointment coming up next week or so....son is 14 months.....TOO SOON????

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    1. Different doctors will feel comfortable doing this surgery with patients of different ages. It's not really that age, but the weight and maturity of the child... so if you are concerned, just ask your doctor about it. I'm sure he/she won't mind if you want to wait a few more months before the surgery, if it makes you feel better.

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  48. OK i got the story second hand from the wife and she cleared this up when i got home from work. He said he would do the surgery that soon if we wanted but his preference is to wait until he's 2 years old. So i think this should be the plan but boy does it stink to watch him use his defective thumb while we wait! He sure knows how to use it but I wonder if this is making him develop tendencies he wouldn't normally have with a normal working thumb.
    Oh well....more of the waiting game.

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  49. Thanks so much for posting this! My son is 3 1/2 and we just noticed his thumbs. It was nice going in to the doctor today and being able to ask about Trigger Thumb specifically. Our doctor said she has read about it, but has never seen a case personally. While we're taking him in for x-rays, she's going to be doing her research and consulting the local children's hospital.

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    1. Yippee! You get to give your doctor a new experience! I hope it goes well for you guys. Feel free to check back in and tell us how it went.

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  50. Thanks from another parent that just noticed the 'locked' thumb on his two year old boy. Mom took him to the pediatrician today and he gave her a bunch of genetic disorder scare jargon. While there may be other health concerns, I assumed that he had just jammed his thumb. We'll check for the nodule today and hopefully I can calm down the entire family. The pediatrician didn't even touch the thumb during the visit and immediately had us concerned that we'd have to completely change our expectations for the long term health of our two year old. Rant off, my question is this: He is two and just developed this condition (within a month or so). The websites indicate that there is a chance it will remedy itself, although if at age three it's still there then surgery...what do we do?

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    1. Really sorry to hear about that experience with the Pediatrician. Don't go back there. Sheesh.
      In answer to you question, if your child's thumb is locked and doesn't straighten, it won't likely fix itself. Surgery is the only thing that will straighten it and so it will be up to you if and when you want to do a surgery. From my experience, Doing it during before they turn three is good time.

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  51. My 27 month old daughter is having her trigger thumb surgery (bilateral) in a couple weeks. I was not going to do the surgery because anesthesia scares the HELL out of me. But turns out she needs her tonsils removed so we are doing it all at once :( Thanks for the info. I feel a lot more positive after reading this!

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    1. Wow! That's a lot of surgery, but it makes sense to just get it done. I've written a little bit about preparing for trigger thumb surgery with your child. If you haven't read it already, here's the link: http://humdrumhero.blogspot.com/2011/12/preparing-for-trigger-thumb-surgery.html
      I hope it all goes well for you guys!

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    2. Was wondering how the surgery on both the tonsils and trigger thumb went. I was thinking I'd wait until they'd have to get tonsils or something out too.

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  52. I'm so glad I found your post, my daughter was diagnosed with trigger thumb today! She also has the little bump at the bottom of her thumb. It totally freaked me out and when I found out she had to have surgery I think I wanted to cry! It just sounded so scary especially when they said she could suffer nerve damage during the surgery! It seems like a simple procedure, what I want to know is what are the chances of it coming back if they fix it this young. Also, how long did it take for you daughter to completely use her thumb, was she able to use it right away? Did she have a lot of pain? Also when you say 3-6 weeks for recovery, was that just to get rid of the pain? Or that she was in the cast? My doctor didn't mention her having a cast today so I'll be sure to ask about it! Poor little guys!!! But I am glad that we caught it, my little girl actually pointed it out to me and said it hurts! I actually always noticed her thumb curved in but I thought it was just cos she did that all the time! How is your daughter doing now? Okay thank you so much for sharing your experience!

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    1. Hi there! First, I know surgery on a little child sounds awful, and the prospect of nerve damage is not fun to hear. Medical professionals have to warn you of the risks. However, if your doctor is confident about the procedure, then hopefully you can take comfort in that.
      I hope I can answer all your questions. In this reply. Be sure to check out the other posts I have written about trigger thumb (if you haven't already) by clicking on the "trigger thumb" heading at the top of my blog.
      Okay, here are the answers: When I say that it took 3-6 weeks for my daughter to heal after the surgery, I'm just talking about the healing of the incision. Within 1-2 days after surgery, a child can use their thumbs again if they get a soft cast. I had two daughters with trigger thumb that got surgery. One had a hard cast, and one had a soft cast. I preferred the soft one because we could remove it after a couple of days; where with a hard one, we had to keep it on for 3 weeks. Neither of my daughters complained about pain after the surgery. We never needed to use the prescription pain medicine. I just gave them Tylenol for a day or two after the surgery and that was enough. Both of my girls are doing fine now and using their thumbs well today. I am so glad I had them get the surgery. The chances of recurrence are very slim, my doctor told me, but it shouldn't be ruled out either.

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  53. OMG Thankyou for posting this!! My son injured his thumb at age one, now 2 and a half still bent with the tell tale lump. I have been panicking and stressed as his behaviour is horrid with constant crying and tantrums and him telling us it hurts. I know understand, and without your story popping up first on Google, I would be still stressing. we are seeing the doctor on monday

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    1. You are welcome. Thank you too for sharing. This will help others too.

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  54. Tonight iv just noticed my soon to be 3 yr old son (tomorrow) has got a trigger thumb on his (R) thumb. I cryed and was very worried, scared, scared for him, didnt know what to think so i decided to look up on the internet thats when i came across this. It made me alot more calmer as i had a little feeling maybe my child isnt normal and this has really set my mind at ease. It seems to be very common and il still be going to the doctors tomorrow. So thankyou for blogging this, youve made our lives a whole lot more understanding with this and doesnt make it seem "unnormal or different"

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  55. This is interesting, my son just turned 2 July 19th and I have noticed for a little while that he also has a bent thumb. Occasionally he can straighten it on his own with no pain at all and it never bothers him. I haven't really put much thought into his thumb because I figured he was hypermobile (double jointed) in that thumb like his dad. It has been about a month since he unlocked his thumb and after reading all this I am sure he has "trigger thumb" I really hate to see him go through surgery so I am making an appointment and i'm hoping it is something that can be resolved without surgery.

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    1. I hope things go well with your son, surgery or not. And just for the record, both my twins exhibited trigger thumb. One didn't need surgery (trigger thumb resolved itself) and the other did need surgery because her thumbs were stuck in the bent position. So, either outcome is plausible. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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  56. Hi! Your blog is so helpful!! My friend showed me today that my daughter's thumb wouldn't straighten, it is stuck in the bent position and I have never noticed it!!!! I cannot believe we haven't noticed it before this. She is two years old. I haven't noticed pain with it but she definitely can't straighten it. She has her 2 year old well child check on Monday so I will bring it up to the pediatrician but we have Kaiser so I'm wondering if they will even do anything?? Thanks again for taking the time to post all of this info!

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    1. Hi there! Don't feel too bad that you haven't noticed your daughter's bent thumb... it typically isn't present at birth, but gradually presents itself. One of my daughter's thumbs didn't start locking until about 18 months. What I'm saying is, your daughter's thumbs probably haven't been locked for too long before it was brought you your attention. I don't know much about Kaiser itself, but as far as insurance goes, this sort of surgery is usually subject to your plan's deductibles and co-pays and co-insurance. It's not a bad idea to call the hospital and find out how it will be billed so you get an idea of what you are in for. I did that with my second daughter's surgery. It helped to be informed once those bills started coming.

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  57. A couple of months ago we noticed our 4 year old's thumb was bent. It was diagnosed as trigger thumb and he is scheduled for surgery in a few weeks. We have been looking through his baby photos and realised that he has always had it - not one photo with a straight thumb! Thanks for your post, the stories here make me feel better.

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    1. You are welcome. Best wishes to you as you move forward.

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  58. Thanks so much for sharing. I noticed about a month ago that my daughters thumb on her left hand would not straighten all the way. I then looked on line and found your blog. It was really nice to hear your story along with everyone else. I made an appointment to get it check out a week after I had noticed it and her primary doctor didn't know what it was so she referred me to a specialist at children's hospital. We had that appointment on Monday and turns out she has trigger thumb. I was not surprised after reading up on the topic after i found your blog. Within the first minute of being in the room he knew what it was. being very informed on the issue i had no questions at all. He said its best to get the surgery done and to set it up whenever i would like so we are getting the surgery done on January 4th :) I'm hoping all turns out well which I'm sure it will and ill give an update on how well it went and the recovery time. He said about 3 days with a wrap on and after that she should be able to go about her normal daily life and activities. Again thanks for sharing and Ill be in touch :)

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    1. Yes, do be in touch. These stories help others. I wish you and your family the best during surgery and recovery.

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  59. My 2 kids each have a trigger thumb also. Even though most of the time it's bent, once in a while it would snap back to a straight position. They would complain that it hurts until it bents back. Did anyone have too? Also, has anyone tried stretching and splinting?
    Thanks for having this blog.

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    1. One of my girls also would complain that her thumb hurt when it got straightened... but as soon as it was bent back, felt better. I didn't try stretching or splinting. Though, I will say that my twins each have the knob at the base of thumb and one of them ended up needing the surgery and the other, while occasionally one of her thumbs did get stuck, she ended up "growing out of it" (for lack of a better phrase) and no longer has any trigger. From the studies I had read about trigger thumb and splinting, it is hard to do with children since they really hate having anything on their hands for long.
      At any rate, your two little ones have each other on their trigger thumb journey. My best to you all.

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  60. Count me as another who's so happy to have found your story. Our son showed me his thumb that didn't work just last week ... and what do you know, he's right.

    Our pediatrician suggested that our 3-year-old might have a bent thumb due to an injury, and the idea of a trigger thumb was promptly dismissed. I find photos of a bent thumb all the way back to 18 months old, so I'm not sure if I buy that explanation.

    We'll be seeing an orthopaedist soon, and I'm wagering that surgery is in our near future. Thanks for putting your experiences online. They really do help!

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  61. I am so glad i looked this up and was amazed to see so many comments with people experiencing the same thing. My daughter (2.5 yrs) gets her thumb stuck often and it staightens up on its own. 70% of the time its straight, 30% bent. She doesnt feel pain as of yet but feels uncomfortable and cries as soon as it gets stuck. Thanks so much for posting this. Will check with her Ped.

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  62. Hello - I want to add that I was born with the exact deformity that your daughter has. Both my thumbs could not be straightened beyond 90-degrees on my last joint (the one closest to the thumbnail).

    My parents took me to all sorts of therapy when I was a child until the age of 8 or so. At that time we got a new family physician and he remarked that he has seen this before and that I would eventually grow out of it by the age of 12 or so with no treatment at all.

    I am happy to see that by the age of 11 (I'm now in my 50's) both of my thumbs had straightened out all by themselves - no therapy or any other treatment since the age of 8 or so. I don't know whether or not my case is typical or not as I have never personally known anyone else with the same condition.

    I just wanted to add my comments since an invasive procedure at such a young age may not be necessary in all cases. Mind you 99% of the time, I was not conscious of my deformity and nobody else outside of my family knew of it. The only tell-tale sign was that I could not hold my chopsticks correctly (to this day I still don't use chopsticks correctly) and sometimes people would comment about that.

    If your daughter is in pain and an operation would prevent her from additional pain then an operation may be worth considering as I have no recollection of any pain from my thumbs as a child and I had a very active childhood.

    Hope this helps.

    TK

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story. No doubt, every one is different so every case will be too. This will likely help someone else.

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  63. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with *the world*! I just stumbled upon your post and this is exactly what appears to be wrong with our little guy's thumbs. He's 3 1/2 months old, and just can't/wont release/relax those thumbs. They're always bent into his palms, even if his fingers are open. I've been concerned for the last month or so about it, justifiably so apparently. I'll be asking our ped about it in a couple of weeks at his next visit. (We have also had tongue tie and lip tie, associated with midline defect. I'm curious now how many other TT/ULT moms have dealt with this. I will have to ask my FB group once I get a positive verification from our ped.) Again, Thank you so much!!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story with all of us as well! I hope all goes well as you seek medical advice/treatment for your son.

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  64. I also want to thank you for sharing this post. My daughter has the same problem in one thumb. I looked it up online and found "trigger thumb" but what I was reading made it seem as though it occurred only in adults with arthritis. I was a little confused. So I added "child" to my search and your blog was the first page to show up. Thanks to your posting I was able to do a little more reading along the same lines and I am quite sure this is what is wrong with her thumb. We just noticed it about a year ago (she is 4) but because it didn't bother her at all, we were not concerned. Tonight she was playing a game with her brother and he knocked her thumb and made it "pop" for a while she could straighten it, but she said it really hurt. Then she came running in, excited, and told me that she had "clicked it" back and it didn't hurt any more. This is the first time it has ever straightened and hurt her, but hopefully now we will be able to help her out so it won't bother her. I do appreciate this post, the internet seems to have answers for just about everything, but there isn't much about this.

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  65. I live in Loveland Co and my daughter had the same thing going on, she's only 14 months but had this since birth. I just thought she was chunky and it was cute but now I don't want this to cause problems, I'm curious as to what he had done to fix it and how she was helped by the procedure. Also what type of cast did he put her in. Just cause my baby had just started walking and im just thinking it'll be better for her in the long run but I should do this sooner then later, we'd most likely do it at children's hospital as well

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  66. Can you tell me what to expect with my 14 month old

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  67. Sorry it took me a bit of time to respond. Since your girl is just 14 months, it's likely that a doctor will tell you to wait until she's a year or two older to do surgery. I don't know if you have looked around on this blog, but I have other posts that talk about what to expect during surgery and the pros and cons of a soft vs hard cast. Those posts will likely answer your questions. Links to those posts are at the bottom of this post. Hope that helps! My best to you and your family.

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  68. Thanks for getting back to me but we actually diss her surgery on Wednesday and they didn't do the casts which I think is easier for her. Every baby is different but her thumbs were also pretty bad he didn't think they would resolve on its own. She gas one at 90° and the other was a 75° pain seems pretty limited as well which is nice lol overall it's been a pretty okay experience but I'm glad we did it sooner rather than later

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    1. Hope the healing process goes well for your little girl! Take care.

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  69. People like you are real hero when lots of us does not want to talk about sth that is wrong with us. By sharing your story you have answered many parents an answer that their doctors could not give them. I know Exactly what to do with my son.cheers

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    1. I am glad I could help! Hope things go well for you and your son!

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  70. Hi I just notice my son's left thumb was bend seem stiff and he couldnt straight the thumb. I freak out and took him to a childrens urgent care and he had some x-rays done. The x-rays didnt show any fracture and the doctor told me to no worry. His thumb is not red or swollen but now that I'm reading all the comments my son may have a trigger thumb. The doctor told me if this continues to happen to take him to a childrens orthopedic. Im going to wait a couple of weeks to see how his thumb continues. The weird this is that his thumb was bend and stiff in the morning and later on in the day it was straight and when I tried to bend it to just check his flexion it bother him.

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  71. Thanks for the info! Our 2 1/2 just had both thumbs fixed. It was amazing and easy. The worst part was having a casts on both arms for 10 days. My daughter handled it like a champ, but I was really glad when they came off! Our Orthopedic surgeon recommended doing both thumbs and asap, He was right! And, btw, her pediatrician had no clue, luckily, he refererred us to someone who did! Her thumbs are perfect now!

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  72. My daughter is 11 years old and just been diagnosed with trigger thumb (both thumbs).It wasn't until she had a minor slip on stairs and taken to a&e that trigger thumb was picked up on, like a few parents just thought her thumbs were double jointed, she now waiting for surgery on left thumb first as this the one that is more troublesome,hoping the right thumb resolves itself as hate to see my daughter go through surgery a second time.

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  73. Really appreciate your post... was trying to google this up when my wife told me our 18 mth old son could not straighten his right thumb.. i could not believe it and I took it to google... good thing my wife massages him everyday and saw the difference immediately... was not born this way though... weird thing is this only happen the same day he got his immunization jabs... could this be the reason?

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  74. thank you for sharing, hope the problem has now been resolved.

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  75. Like so many above, I would also like to thank you for posting!!!

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  76. Thank you so much for sharing. I was confused as to what was going on with my sons thumbs, until I came a cross this.

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Thanks for commenting! I love a discussion. If you plan on including a link in your comment, make it appropriate. I will not post comments that include links that I think may be malicious.