A tendon laceration occurs when a cut is deep enough to cut the tendon. This can lead to loss of motion of a finger. The tendons on the back of your hands, the ones you can most often visualize, are your extensor tendons. The extensor tendons function to pull your fingers up or back into extension. The tendons on the underside, or palm side, of your hand are your flexor tendons. These tendons function to help you flex your fingers, or make a fist. If you have lacerated your tendon, your doctor will determine if it is a full tear or a partial tear. Treatment will look a little different for each.
With a partial tear, you may or may not need surgery. Your doctor will determine how much of the tendon is intact and whether or not it will heal on its own. If the partial tear is bad enough, your doctor will want to repair it surgically. Keep in mind, if you have a partial tear and continue using the finger normally, there is the potential of rupturing the tendon and sustaining a full tear.
A full tear typically requires surgical repair. Your doctor will trim the torn ends of the tendon, then reattach the cleaned ends. After surgery your doctor will wrap your hand in gauze and plaster to keep it immobilized. Depending on your doctor’s preferred protocol, he will send you for hand therapy within 3-7 days to have a custom splint made.
Therapy After a Tendon Repair
Your hand therapist will create a splint for you (based on which tendon you injured). Repaired tendons get weaker between 18 and 21 days after surgery. The increased swelling in your hand causes the repaired tendon to become weak, which is why the splint is so important. You must wear the splint 24/7, even in the shower.
Because of the weak period in the tendon, patience is key with a tendon repair protocol. Your doctor will communicate with your hand therapist which motion protocol he would prefer your therapist to use. The protocol will tell your hand therapist when you doctor wants you to begin movement exercises.
Have you sustained an injury resulting in a tendon rupture? Do you have questions about your upcoming tendon repair or are you concerned about the post-operative guidelines? LB Hand Therapy+ is here to help.