Tendons are tough cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones. When a group of muscles contract (tighten), the attached tendons will pull on certain bones, allowing you to make a wide range of movements.
There are two groups of tendons in the hand:
Surgery can often be carried out to repair damage to both these groups of tendons.
Hand tendon repair is carried out when one or more tendons in your hand rupture or are cut, leading to loss of normal hand movements.
If your extensor tendons are damaged, you'll be unable to straighten one or more fingers. If your flexor tendons are damaged, you'll be unable to bend one or more fingers. Tendon damage can also cause pain and inflammation (swelling) in your hand.
In some cases, damage to the extensor tendons can be treated without the need for surgery, using a rigid support called a splint that’s worn around the hand.
Common causes of tendon injuries include:
In Flexor or Extensor Tendon Injuries, the tear (rupture) or cut (laceration) of the tendon ends are pulled apart, and they cannot heal without the ends touching.
Tendon repair may involve the surgeon making an incision in your wrist, hand or finger so they can locate the ends of the divided tendon and stitch them together.
Extensor tendons are easier to reach, so repairing them is relatively straightforward. Depending on the type of injury, it may be possible to repair extensor tendons in an accident and emergency (A&E) department using a local anesthetic to numb the affected area.
Repairing flexor tendons is more challenging because the flexor tendon system is more complex. Flexor tendon repair usually needs to be carried out under either general anesthetic or regional anesthetic (where the whole arm is numbed) in an operating room by an experienced plastic or orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hand surgery.
After surgical repair, it is critical that you follow your surgeon’s postoperative orders. You will be referred to certified hand therapy to follow a Tendon Repair Protocol.
Certified Hand Therapy Treatment Plan: After careful evaluation by the physical or occupational therapist, the first step in treating this condition is to fabricate a splint for you to wear for 6-8 weeks. Treatments may include edema control, scar massage, and specific passive exercises per the protocol ordered by the hand surgeon.
After your initial prescription for therapy is completed, your physician and therapist will decide if you need to continue therapy or if you will be discharged to a home exercise program.
This information is provided as a learning resource for the benefit of our patients. It is NOT INTENDED to replace personal consultation with your medical professionals.