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Flexor Tendon Injury Hand Therapy

“Working with a knowledgeable hand therapist can make the difference between success and failure in complex hand surgical cases. The therapist extends the continuum of our care, as well as functioning as coach and trainer for our patients.”

Marybeth Ezaki, MD, Past President, American Society for Surgery of the Hand

In Phoenix Rehab, our senior hand therapists are experienced licensed and dedicated therapists (physiotherapists and/or occupational therapists) who specialized ONLY in the rehabilitation, treatment and management of painful fingers, hands, wrists, forearm & elbow conditions, because of interest, passion and expertise.

The flexor tendons are strong, smooth cords that connect the muscles of the forearm to the bones in the fingers and thumb on the palm side of the hand.

These very same flexor tendons allow us to

  • bend our wrist
  • hold on to a coffee cup
  • button our shirt
  • open jars
  • type on keyboards
  • carry our children
  • play any form of racquet games
  • etc

and perform everyday activities that require bending our fingers and thumb.

How do flexor tendons become injured, and what are the symptoms of a flexor tendon injury?

Flexor tendon injuries usually occur as a result of a cut to the palm side of the hand. 

Injuries can also occur in sports or due to arthritic conditions. A “Jersey Finger” happens when a finger is caught on another player’s jersey or clothes and the tendon is pulled off from the tip of the bone.

Bone spurs or inflamed joint fluid from arthritis can fray and sometimes rupture flexor tendons. Symptoms of a flexor tendon injury include

  • pain
  • swelling
  • tenderness and
  • difficulty or inability to bend the finger

Example of an injured ring finger flexor tendon in which the finger is held straight instead of bent

What is the treatment for a flexor tendon injury?

A flexor tendon injury is a serious injury.

The reason for saying this is because cut or ruptured tendons do not heal by themselves and will 100% require surgery. A hand surgeon will test the tendons individually to determine which tendons have been affected.

X-rays may be taken if the injury was caused by glass or other debris.

What can a hand therapist do for me?

A hand therapist is an important part of post-surgical care.

After tendon repair surgery, our senior hand therapist will fabricate a custom-made splint orthosis and start a protected exercise program. The goals of hand therapy are to provide gentle motion to the healing tendon in order to prevent scarring and to prevent separation of the tendon.

The physician, our senior hand therapist and patient must work collaboratively together as a team in order to achieve the best possible outcomes after a flexor tendon injury.

Example of flexor tendon orthosis to protect the injured finger

Patients may also receive the following hand therapy treatment modalities: