Extensor Tendon Injuries
An extensor tendon injury occurs when the tendon is torn, cut or otherwise detached. The extensor tendons are attached to the back of your fingers and thumbs. They allow your fingers and thumbs to straighten and perform fine coordinated movements. Extensor tendon injuries can result from trauma, burns, or arthritis.
Extensor tendon injuries cause loss of movement, pain, and swelling. Some extensor tendon injuries are treated with splinting and hand therapy. Surgery may be necessary in cases of tendon separation, fracture, or malalignment.
Your flexor tendons begin in your forearm and continue to the palm side of your fingers and thumb. Each finger has two flexor tendons and your thumb has one. They are located just underneath the skin. A sheath thickened in areas by fibrous pulleys guide the flexor tendons and keep them close to your phalanges during motion. The flexor tendons allow your fingers and thumbs to bend, grasp items, and perform fine coordinated movements. The nerves in your fingers(digital nerves) travel parallel and along both sides of the flexor tendons.
Surgical treatments and splinting are followed by hand therapy. Your doctor will place your initial splint in surgery which is generally replaced by a light weight splint made by a therapist soon after surgery. Your therapist will show you initial exercises to promote tendon gliding and help avoid stiffness. The other joints in your fingers may become stiff and benefit from hand therapy as well. Your therapist will teach you more active tendon gliding exercises when your doctor indicates that it is safe to do so. Your rehabilitation program will advance to include exercises for strength, flexibility, coordination, gripping, and pinching. The goal of therapy is to optimize return of function.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.