Tendons connect muscles to bone. Flexor tendons in the hand allow the fingers to bend.
A flexor tendon injury may occur as a result of a deep cut to the finger or palm. A tendon can also be injured if the finger catches on something and is pulled. If the flexor tendon is partially or totally damaged, the patient will not be able to bend their finger well or at all.
A deep cut with a knife or sharp glass can result in a flexor tendon injury. Certain sports injuries can also result in a flexor tendon injury. “Jersey finger” occurs when a player pulls at the jersey of another player while that player is running away from them. The tendon can also be injured in other arm and hand sports such as rock climbing. Finally, certain health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may weaken flexor tendons, resulting in injury.
To receive a diagnosis, a qualified musculoskeletal expert will first take a medical history and conduct a physical exam. A physician will test the patient’s fingers to see if they can bend them and will test their finger strength. An x-ray may be ordered to determine if there is an injury to the bone.
There are surgical and nonsurgical treatment options available. A cut or torn tendon can be repaired by a surgeon. To protect the hand it will be placed in a splint.
Therapy starts very soon after surgery. Exercises are prescribed and must be performed many times a day. After the tendon is strong, the splint will not be needed and the patient can gradually resume normal activities.