Flexor Tendon Injuries

Flexor tendons are muscles and tendons in the forearm, wrist and hand. The tendons run through small tunnels called tendon sheaths in the wrist and hand and attach to bones in the fingers and thumbs. The flexor tendons allow our fingers to bend and form a fist.

Flexor tendon injuries are most commonly due to a cut on the palm side of the hand, fingers, wrist or forearm. They can be compared to a rubber band that is under tension. Like a rubber band, if the tendons are cut, they pull apart, releasing the tension.

Injuries to the flexor tendons can also occur when they rupture from wear, when the tendon and muscles separate or when the tendon separates from the bone. This type of injury can happen while playing sports—particularly football, rugby and wrestling. They can also occur during rock climbing and can result from rheumatoid arthritis.

The inability to bend one or more finger joints is the most noticeable symptom of a flexor tendon injury, but pain, tenderness, bruising, swelling and the inability to bend your hand or part of your arm can also occur.

Partial cuts to the flexor tendons may not cause a complete inability to bend a finger, but the finger can lock, and there may be excessive pain.

Because flexor tendons are very close to blood vessels and nerves, they can also be damaged when a flexor tendon is cut, causing finger numbness.

Flexor tendon injuries cannot heal on their own, and early evaluation is important. Surgery may be indicated in many cases. Flexor tendon repair is usually an outpatient procedure performed under general or regional anesthesia seven to ten days after the injury occurs.

However, if the blood supply has been cut, the loss of a finger can result, so your doctor may perform surgery immediately.

The patient will have a splint after surgery and need physical therapy to regain mobility.

Please call our office immediately at (978) 794-1946 or (603) 898-2244 if you believe you have a flexor tendon injury, or take advantage of our walk-in clinic in Haverhill and Andover Monday–Friday, 8am–12pm and 1–3pm.

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