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Piedmont Newton repairs Santa Claus’ hand just in time for Christmas
Santa Hand
Michael and Paula Smith celebrate the quick response of Piedmont Physicians Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Covington. - photo by Staff Report

COVINGTON, Ga. – When Michael Smith, who works as a local Santa Claus during the holidays, noticed he was having some pain in his fingers, he quickly scheduled an appointment with Piedmont Physicians Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Covington to get it fixed before Christmas.

“Towards the end of the summer, I started having issues with three fingers on my right hand, where my pointer and index fingers and my thumb would continuously lock up,” Smith, who has worked as Santa Claus in Newton, Jasper and other surrounding counties for 10 years, said. 

Smith visited Dr. Justin Kunes, orthopedic surgeon at Piedmont Physicians Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Covington, who immediately recognized the issue as a condition called stenosing tenosynovitis, more commonly known as trigger finger.

“Trigger finger is a condition that occurs when the tendons controlling the movement in the fingers or thumb become inflamed, causing them to lock up or catch when bent,” Kunes, who is specially trained in hand and upper extremity surgery, said. “We arent sure what causes this but simple treatments are often effective - like injections and surgery.”

Having experienced issues with his fingers in the past, Smith previously tried several remedies, including steroid injections, but they did not resolve things. With Kunes’ guidance, he decided surgery was his best option, and Kunes completed a routine trigger finger release procedure to repair the inflamed area.     

“It was a very simple procedure, and I returned home that same day,” Smith said. “Christmas and the holidays are always my busy season, so I was glad that I was able to get right back to work.”

Since surgery, Smith has had no problems jumping back into his annual big red suit, and he and his wife, also known as Mrs. Santa Claus, have enjoyed spreading holiday cheer this Christmas season.

Trigger finger most frequently occurs in people who are between 40 to 60 years old and is more common in people with certain medical conditions, like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms of trigger finger include finger stiffness, a popping or clicking sensation as you move your finger, tenderness at the base of the affected finger, and finger catching or locking when bent.  

For more information about Piedmont Physicians Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Covington or to schedule an appointment with Kunes, visit