by EBSCO Medical Review Board


Tenolysis is surgery to remove adhesions from a tendon. Adhesions happens when scar tissue forms and binds tendons to tissue. It is most common on the hands and wrists.

Tendons in Finger
Finger Tendon
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Reasons for Procedure

This is done on people who have had an injury or surgery that affected the tendon. It is done when other methods have not helped.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • A lot of bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Pain and stiffness
  • Harm to nerves or other nearby structures
  • Ruptured tendon
  • Surgery does not help with motion
  • Amputation

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • The medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Arranging a ride to and from surgery
  • Tests that will need to be done before surgery


The doctor may give:

Description of the Procedure

An incision will be made. The tissue will be cut to release the tendon. The incision will be closed with stitches.

How Long Will It Take?

How long it takes depends on which tendon is affected and to what extent.

Will It Hurt?

Pain and swelling are common in the first 1 to 2 weeks. Medicine and home care can help.

Average Hospital Stay

You may be able to go home in 1 to 2 days. If you have problems, you may need to stay longer.

Post-procedure Care

At the Hospital

After the procedure, the staff may:

  • Give you pain medicines
  • Protect the area with a brace or splint

During your stay, staff will take steps to lower your chance of infection, such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your incisions covered

You can also lower your chance of infection by:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
  • Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
  • Not letting others touch your incisions
At Home

It will take a few weeks for the incision to heal. Physical activity will need to be limited during recovery. You will need to ask for help with daily activities and delay your return to work.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, more pain, a lot of bleeding, or any leaking from the incision
  • Pain that you cannot control with medicine
  • Numbness or tingling
  • New or worsening symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


American Society for Surgery of the Hand 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 


The Canadian Orthopaedic Association 

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation 


Giugale JM, Fowler JR. Trigger Finger: Adult and Pediatric Treatment Strategies. Orthop Clin North Am. 2015 Oct;46(4):561-569.

Trigger finger (stenosing tenosynovitis) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated July 26, 2019. Accessed July 17, 2020.

Revision Information