What Is A Flexor Tendon?
Tendons are connectors between muscles and bones. Flexor tendons are located on the underside or palm side of the hand. These tendons allow movement in the hands and the fingers to bend. Flexor tendons are protected by tendon sheaths that rest just below the surface of the skin.
What is a flexor tendon injury?
A flexor tendon injury occurs when a deep cut pierces the skin and damages the tendon. The flexor tendon is almost like a rubber band, so an injury can range from a partial tear to a complete severing. A deeply lacerated hand will bleed profusely, and the subsequent damage makes hand or finger movement difficult. A deep cut can also damage the nerves and blood vessels located in the hand. Patients with a flexor tendon injury may also have trouble bending fingers or the entire hand. Patients may also experience numbness in the fingers and tenderness in the hand. All these issues are symptoms of a flexor tendon injury.
Will a flexor tendon injury require surgery?
If significant damage to the tendon has occurred, then yes, surgery is a possibility. Typically, surgery happens when the tendon is completely severed. A severed tendon cannot heal. Tendons are made of collagen-filled tissue that can heal naturally when a partial tear occurs. However, the tissue is not able to regenerate during a major severance.
What happens during flexor tendon repair surgery?
To surgically fix the problem, doctors will suture or stitch the tendon together and place the hand in a stint to start the recovery process. Before surgery, doctors will clean the area, and patients will receive some shots to prevent infection. Then, the patient is placed under anesthesia. Basic tendon repair surgery can take an hour, but more complicated cases will take longer. In some cases, the original tendon cannot be reconnected, and doctors must take tissue from a healthy finger to repair the damaged tendon. This is called tendon transfer surgery. Overall, the surgical procedure depends on the severity of the tendon damage.
How do I know if I need surgery?
A medical doctor will be able to determine if a patient needs to undergo surgery for tendon repair. Therefore, patients must seek medical attention once pain or a deep laceration occurs in the hand area. People that play heavy contact sports like rugby and football are more susceptible to flexor tendon injuries and may deal with chronic pain in the area, also known as jersey finger. Before treatment, doctors will perform a physical examination to test hand mobility and strength and then conduct imaging tests to get a thorough look at the tendon region. Nonsurgical treatments include wearing a splint and doing hand exercises to strengthen the muscles.
Should I see a doctor?
Consulting with a physician is a good idea, especially for athletic patients or patients with visible hand injuries. Not all tendon injuries heal naturally, and patients can deal with permanent hand damage if the tendon is left untreated. A doctor will also refer patients to a hand surgeon if necessary.