Thursday, March 18, 2010

Recovering from Trigger Thumb Surgery

Yesterday I took my daughter to see an occupational therapist to evaluate her recovery from the surgery she had on her thumbs in December (3.5 months ago). Normally, a visit to the an OT isn't necessary after this surgery, but because my daughter couldn't bend her left thumb at the joint, even a month after her casts were removed, I figured we should check on it. FYI, my daughter is right-handed and her right thumb is recovering just fine.

In some of my previous posts on this subject, I shared how I have tried to incorporate some exercises for her recovering thumbs into her routine. These have helped. I have really been pushing scissor skills as well. This is where I have seen the most dramatic improvement. A month ago my daughter couldn't open scissors; she could only close them. Now she can open them. Granted, it's still a bit of a challenge for her, but there is progress.

In consulting with the OT yesterday, I learned that my daughter has weak muscles in her wrists and thumbs. I asked if this was a result of her having locked trigger thumbs for the first few years of her life. OT responded in the positive and the negative. "Yes," in that having locked trigger thumbs my have hampered her from participating in activities that would have helped her strengthen her wrist and thumb muscles, but "no" in that weak muscles can be a side effect of having genetically loose ligaments (which is common in girls). The loose ligaments can hamper the strengthening of muscles around them. My daughter does have loose ligaments in her thumbs.

So, what can we do? The OT said I should continue doing all the things that I am doing with her at home (this means fewer appointments for us! Yippee!). She also encouraged me to massage my daughter's left thumb because she has a bit of scare tissue there. I will lead my daughter in exercising her left thumb by supporting the base of it with my fingers and helping her bend her thumb up and down. Not real fun for a four-year-old, but necessary. As far as what the OT can do, she went ahead and measured my daughter's thumbs for thumb splints. The splints will be soft (have to wait a couple of weeks to pick them up), removable, and washable. The splints will give my daughter's thumbs support, something that her loose ligaments weren't giving, so that she will have more opportunity to bend and use her thumbs, strengthening those muscles. She won't need to wear them all the time, just when she's doing fine motor sort of activities.

*If you are interested in reading other posts about my daughter's trigger thumb saga, the easiest way is to use my blog's search on the upper right-hand side. Use the search term: trigger thumb.


  1. Thank you so much for continuing to write about your experience. I found your initial post last December after doing a similar Google search to the one you did... and later confirmed the diagnosis for my 4 year old with her pediatrician and orthopedic surgeon. Only one of her thumbs was affected, and she was not born with it - but we had to look through photos to confirm this because she was compensating so well for it. She is having surgery in week and a half, and reading your blog is helping me to prepare. Her surgeon said that she will go home with a "soft dressing" instead of a cast, and that he will want her to start moving it the very next day. Great job with the at-home therapy you are doing! Thank you so much for posting on this, and I hope you will continue to do so. I am sure there are many people out there reading along even if we are not all letting you know! Thanks again - Keri in TN

  2. Thank you, Keri. I'm glad our experience is of value. My best to you and your daughter with her surgery. I'm sure that things will go well.


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