The tendons connect the muscles of the forearm to the bones in the fingers, which allows them to bend and straighten again. For patients who experience a serious tendon injury that affects finger motion, hand surgery may be necessary for repair.
Contact us online today to learn more about tendon injuries. The Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery of Central Texas helps men and women from Austin, Round Rock and throughout Texas restore function with finger reattachment through reconstructive hand surgery.
Understanding Tendon Injuries
There are two different types of tendons in the hand: flexor tendons and extensor tendons.
- Flexor tendons run from the flexor muscles in the forearm to the finger bones along the palm side of the hand. The flexor tendons are responsible for allowing your fingers to bend. There are two flexor tendons in every finger and one in each thumb. Since the flexor tendons are very close to the surface of the skin, they are more vulnerable to injuries.
- Extensor tendons run along the backside of the hand and fingers. Although these tendons also connect the forearm muscles to the wrists, they let the fingers, hand and wrist straighten rather than bend. Like the flexor tendons, extensor tendons are not far below the skin’s surface, so they can be injured quite easily.
Tendon function can be affected by even a slight cut on the back of the hand (extensor tendons) or the palm (flexor tendons). An injured tendon can cause problems bending or straightening the fingers, depending on which tendon is affected. For example, an injured extensor tendon may prevent the fingers from fully straightening the fingers although making a fist can still be possible.
Tendon injuries can make movement more difficult, while a completely severed tendon prevents movement entirely. In this case, surgery will be necessary to recovery function. Symptoms of injured tendons include swelling and tenderness in addition to stiff or painful finger movement. Injuries most often occur after hand injuries, but arthritis in the wrist can also cause the extensor tendons to rupture.
Tendon Injury Treatment
Applying ice and elevating the hand is the first step after a tendon injury. Including compression as well will help slow any bleeding. If you suspect a tendon injury, prompt treatment is essential to ensure full function after healing. Initial evaluation should be done in an emergency department by qualified physicians to evaluate and treat the wound, but also determine if a tendon has been cut.
Tendons that are split or cut may need surgery to repair. Minor tears may be treated with a splint alone to stabilize the joint and prevent the tear from worsening. The splint should be worn at all times until the tendon is completely healed.
When tendons are completely severed, they need to be sewn back together and surgically reattached. For best results, this should take place as soon as possible after the initial trauma, usually within the first week of injury.
Recovery and Results
After surgery, a supportive splint is worn to encourage appropriate placement during healing. The splint is removed after several weeks and hand therapy, an important part of the recovery process, is pursued to encourage full range of motion again.
Contact us online today to learn more about your tendon injury repair options. The Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery of Central Texas helps men and women from Austin, Round Rock and throughout Texas enjoy a pain-free life again through hand surgery.