Tendons are responsible for connecting muscles to bone. The fingers have tendons that run all the way up to the finger tips. The tendons on the palm side enable you to curl (flex) your fingers. A flexor tendon injury is damage to these tendons. When the tendons are damaged you can lose your ability to bend your finger(s).
If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor promptly. The sooner treatment is begun, the better the outcome.
Flexor tendon injures most commonly occur as a cut or laceration to the hand. Other causes include:
These factors increase your chance of a flexor tendon injury. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to flexor tendon injury. These may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. During the exam you will be asked to bend and straighten your fingers. Your doctor will also check your fingers for sensation, blood flow, and strength. You may be referred to a hand surgeon or an orthopedist (doctor who specializes in bones).
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Most patients with this type of injury require surgery. Surgery may be scheduled immediately or within several days. Treatment options include the following:
Depending upon the type of injury, you may receive antibiotics to prevent infection.
Tendons that are cut or ruptured require surgery. The hand surgeon may sew the tendon back together. It may be necessary to sew the tendon back to the muscle.
After surgery, you will be given a splint to protect your hand. Your doctor will tell you how long to wear it. It may be up to two months. A physical therapist will work with you to regain your finger strength and range of motion.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Society for Surgery of the Hand
The Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Flexor tendon injuries. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00015 . Accessed November 13, 2008.
Flexor tendon injuries. American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at: http://www.assh.org/Content/NavigationMenu/PatientsPublic/HandConditions/FlexorTendonInjuries/Flexor_Tendon_Injur.htm . Accessed November 13, 2008.
Leggit JC, Meko CJ. Acute Finger Injuries: Part I. Tendons and Ligaments. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20060301/810.html . Accessed November 13, 2008.
Last reviewed December 2008 by Ronald Nath, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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