The thick tissue that connects your muscles to the bone is called a tendon. Tendons are important for carrying out the full range of movements of a particular muscle.
In the hand, there are two sets of tendons that control all of the movements of the hand. The flexor group of tendons attaches the muscles on the palmar side of the hand to flex or bend the hand and fingers. The extensor group, on the other hand, allows the hand to stretch out or extend. Extensor tendons and muscles are found on the backside of the hand.
How Can a Tendon Become Injured?
It’s not uncommon for a tendon to get torn, or completely avulsed. This is more common in active people who lift heavy weights. Crushing trauma to the hand can also result in tendon injuries.
More frequently, hand tendons are injured, as a result of contact sports and strength training, accidental cuts, animal bites, traffic accidents or certain debilitating chronic diseases such as advanced rheumatoid arthritis.
How Does Tendon Injury Present?
When a tendon is torn it can cause pain when the fingers are bent or straightened. Sometimes the injury can be severe enough to cause numbness and swelling over the affected area.
How is a Tendon Injury Diagnosed?
A complete physical examination should usually be enough for a qualified physician to diagnose a tendon tear. However certain imaging tests such as an X-ray or an MRI scan can further confirm the diagnosis.
Hand Tendon Surgery
Depending upon the extent of disease your doctor will decide the best course of action for you. Sometimes the tears are minute enough to be treated with rest and bracing. In most cases of tendon tears, however, surgery will be required.
When an extensor tendon is injured, the surgical procedure can be performed under local anaesthesia. If a flexor tendon is damaged, however, general anaesthesia might become necessary because of the complex nerve anatomy in the palmar side of the hand.
What is the prognosis?
Generally it can take up to two months to fully recover after surgery. The prognosis is excellent if proper post-operative care and rehabilitation is provided during this time period. Hand physiotherapy and exercises also help to restore function.