What you should know about flexor hand tendon surgery

The flexor tendons are an essential component of the human hand, and they connect muscles in the forearm to the bones of the fingers and thumb. They resemble powerful, smooth cords, and each finger has two flexor tendons, while the thumb has only one.

Do you need Hand Tendon surgery ?

Flexor tendons are surrounded by tunnels made of bone in the wrist and the fingers, and when the muscles of the forearm contract, the tendons tighten to move your fingers. Some people liken it to a bicycle brake: when the handle is squeezed, the cable tightens, and the brakes shift inwards. If the palm is cut deeply enough, flexor tendons can be severed, and that is a serious problem.

Flexor tendons lie just below the surface of the skin where the finger creases at the joint, and is a vulnerable spot for flexor tendons to be damaged. When force is applied to the fingers, this action may disrupt the flexor tendons and they can become detached from the bone. If flexor tendons are badly damaged in the hand, tendon surgery may be required to regain full functionality of the fingers.

How do you know if you are suffering from a damaged flexor tendon?

A significant wound in the palm or fingers is the most common symptom, and you will not be able to bend the affected fingers at all. If you have a finger that is fully extended and cannot relax, this could be a sign of flexor tendon damage. Patients with torn flexor tendons typically experience pain when they attempt to bend the damaged finger.

In more severe injuries, damage to the nerves is possible. The nerves run parallel to the tendons and are just below the surface of the skin on the palm-side of the hand. The only way to be sure that you have a flexor tendon injury is by seeing a specialised hand doctor who can test the fingers independently. They may decide to take an X-ray if you were injured by glass, and sometimes other tests are needed to identify the severity of the damage.

How is this condition treated?

Tendons do not have a direct blood supply and they will not heal by themselves. If the tendon was cut, then the ends have likely separated by centimetres and you will need to have corrective hand tendon surgery. Without a skilled surgeon, you will likely be unable to regain function in your fingers. The doctor will usually anesthetize your arm before operating on the finger to find the two ends of the flexor tendon. They will then stitch the two back together, and put your arm in a splint for six weeks. It is important to immobilize the entire arm so you can?t use your forearm and tear the stitches before they are fully healed.

Complications from flexor tendon surgery

Although the damage to your hand may seem slight, a severed flexor tendon is a serious injury that may limit the full use of your hands and fingers. Flexor tendons typically function under high tension, and there is a potential for the repaired tendon not to function as it did before the injury.

If you strain yourself too early, the tendon can break again, and you will need immediate surgery. The repaired flexor tendon will not glide as smoothly through the tunnels of the bone as it did before. Hand therapy can help alleviate this problem, and sometimes additional surgery is required to remove scar tissue from blocking the tendon.

With the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable hand surgeon, you can restore the mobility and use of your hands and fingers following damage to your flexor tendons. It is important to choose a doctor that you trust to handle this sensitive procedure. Fortunately, there are excellent hand surgeons in Singapore who are extremely capable of performing flexor tendon surgery on your hands, so the only question is finding the best practitioner available to you.