A stretched, torn, or cut tendon can inhibit the dexterity of the fingers, hand, and wrist. Dr. Steven Bailey recommends that patients undergo immediate diagnosis and treatment of flexor and extensor tendon injuries to restore full mobility of the hand. Patients can contact The Hand Center at Crawford Plastic Surgery, serving the greater Atlanta, GA area, to schedule an appointment at our practice.
What Are Tendon Injuries?
The tendons are cords of connective tissue that attach the bone to the muscle. The flexor and extensor tendons start in the forearm and run to the tips of the fingers. These tendons enable patients to straighten, extend, and bend the fingers and wrist.
Tendon Injury Symptoms
When a tendon is injured, the patient is unable to bend or straighten the affected area. In addition to loss of function, tendon injuries may also result in pain, tenderness, swelling, or bruising.
Causes of Tendon Injuries
Because there is not a lot of skin and tissue surrounding the flexor and extensor tendons, they are vulnerable to laceration and puncture injuries. Tendon injuries may also occur as a result of athletic activity, such as when a closed fist is forcibly opened. Crush injuries, such as when the fingers are caught in a closed door, and rheumatoid arthritis may also cause tendon injuries.
Types of Tendon Injuries
Dr. Bailey can diagnose and treat flexor and extensor tendon injuries:
- Flexor tendon injuries: The flexor tendons are located on the palm side of the hand and wrist.
- Extensor tendon injuries: The extensor tendons are located on the back of the hand and wrist, just beneath the skin and over the bone.
Tendon Injury Diagnosis
Dr. Bailey will examine the injury site and ask you to bend, straighten, and extend the affected area. He may also order X-rays to check for bone fractures, or an MRI to determine the extent of the soft tissue injury. He may also check your nerves and blood vessels to ensure that no damage occurred to these structures.
Treatment of Tendon Injuries
If the tendon injury is minor, Dr. Bailey may be able to treat it non-surgically with a combination of a splint, rest, ice, physical therapy, and special finger, hand, or wrist exercises. If an open injury, or wound, is present, the affected area will be cleaned, sterilized, and bandaged.
If the tendon was cut, surgery will be performed to repair it. Any affected nerves and blood vessels may require repair as well. Sutures may be used to repair a torn tendon or to re-attach the two pieces. A splint is then placed to hold the tendon in proper alignment as it heals. Dr. Bailey recommends that patients undergo surgery for damaged tendons within 10 days to increase their chances of completely restoring their function and dexterity.
What to Expect after Surgery
Patients should allow the injured area to rest for several weeks after surgery, and then attend hand therapy appointment and regularly complete the recommended exercises to restore function of the hand and wrist.
Contact The Hand Center at Crawford Plastic Surgery to schedule an appointment for treatment of your tendon injury.