Flexor Tendon Injury
What is a flexor tendon injury?
A cut on the palm side of your fingers, hand, wrist, or forearm can damage your flexor tendons, which allow your fingers or thumb to move. These tendons are on the palm side, and bend the fingers. Like a rubber band, tendons tightly connect the muscle to the bone. If a tendon is cut, the ends will pull far apart, making it impossible for the tendon to heal on its own.
Because the nerves are very close to the tendons, a cut may also damage them, causing numbness of the finger. If blood vessels are cut, this requires immediate surgery. Certain sports can cause flexor tendon injuries, like football, wrestling, and rugby. "Jersey finger" is when a player grabs another's jersey, a finger gets caught, and the tendon is pulled off the bone.
What are the symptoms?
- Inability to bend or move one or more finger joints
- Pain when your finger is bent
- Numbness in your fingertip
What medical tests will I need?
- X-Rays: to rule out any fractures or any abnormal bone structures that might be causing your symptoms.
How is it treated?
- Infection control: if there is an open cut, you will be treated with antibiotics to prevent infection. You will also need to soak the area in half saline and half hydrogen peroxide twice a day. Keep the area covered with a clean bandage at all times.
- Surgery: In most cases, a cut or torn tendon must be repaired with surgery. Surgery is usually performed as soon as possible to avoid having the tendon ends separate too far, making surgery more difficult. If your injury is restricting blood flow this will require immediate surgery.
What do I need to know about surgery?
- You will be contacted within 1 week of your pre-op appointment for pricing and scheduling.
- The surgery will last less than 90 minutes depending on the extent of the injury and you will go home the same day.
- Your surgeon will make a zig-zag incision over the wound to assess the extent of the damage.
- You will have a splint after surgery that will keep your finger from moving until you begin hand therapy, which is typically recommended.
- You will not be able to lift anything with the affected hand for 8 weeks.
- Stiffness is the most common long term complication.