In the hand and wrist, tendons can rupture or become damaged, leading to severe pain and loss of use.
Treatment of tendon injuries is time-critical. Otherwise, the patient may never regain use of the affected hand or finger(s).
Fortunately, for most patients, surgery to repair a hand or wrist tendon returns most or all the function to your thumb or fingers — as long as it is performed as soon as possible after the injury.
Common Hand and Wrist Tendon Injuries
Your hand contains two types of tendons, the extensors and flexors. Extensor tendons allow you to straighten the fingers and thumb. Flexor tendons allow you to bend and curl your fingers and thumb.
When these tissues become damaged, depending on the type and extent of your injuries, you may be unable to bend or straighten one or more of the fingers or thumb.
Sports injuries are one of the most common causes of this problem, along with car accidents. Animal bites also can damage these delicate tendons, as can any type of crushing accident — like shutting your hand in a drawer or car door.
Surgery for Hand and Wrist Tendon Repair
Almost any cut or rupture to the tendons of the hand or wrist requires surgery as soon as possible; otherwise, scarring will develop and reduce the chances that treatment will be effective.
The hand surgeon will start by examining the injury, and usually ordering X-rays or other imaging tests to verify the nature of the damage.
The technique used by your surgeon will depend on which tendon(s) are damaged. Extensor tendons are more difficult to repair than flexor tendons, based on their nature and location. However, both types of tendons are repaired in essentially the same way: The hand surgeon stretches the two ruptured ends together and carefully reattaches them.
Recovery from Tendon Repair Hand Surgery
Unless you had other injuries or experienced complications during surgery, you should be able to go home the day of your procedure.
For the first few weeks, you will have to wear a rigid splint at all times to prevent movement of the wrist and hand. You may be able to return to work; however, if your work requires the use of your hands, you will be unable to use the affected side until the doctor says it’s safe.
Once the surgeon signs off, you will begin working with a physical therapist to restore strength, function and range of motion. After approximately six weeks, most patients can resume light activities such as writing and brushing their teeth or typing.
Resuming activities such as sports and exercise typically occurs about 12 weeks after surgery, as long as the surgeon approves.
Dr. J. Douglas Burrows of the Center of Orthopedic & Rehabilitation Excellence (CORE) in West Valley City, Utah, provides expert diagnosis and treatment for the wrist, hand and fingers, including emergency hand surgery.
Contact us today to see Dr. Burrows for any problems with hand or wrist tendons.