Tendon repair

What is it?

Tendon repair may be needed if one or more tendons rupture or are cut, leading to loss of normal hand movement. If any of the tendons in your hand are damaged, surgery may be needed to repair them and restore movement in the affected fingers or thumb.

Common causes of tendon damage include:

  • Cuts
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

You may need surgery if you have the following symptoms:

  • Unable to straighten one or more fingers
  • Unable to bend one or more fingers
  • Pain and swelling in your hand

Diagnosis and treatment options

Your consultant will examine you and ask you to demonstrate certain movements to check how well your hand is working. You might need some additional tests:

  • Ultrasound
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

During surgery, your consultant will make one or more small incisions in the skin over the damaged tendon. They will sew the torn ends of the tendon together and check the surrounding tissue to make sure no other injuries have occurred. If there isn’t enough healthy tendon to reconnect, your consultant may perform a tendon graft using a piece of tendon from another part of the body, for example, the forearm, foot or toe.

The surgery varies in length of time and may take several hours. Often absorbable sutures are used and the wound needs to be kept dry and covered for 10 days. A splint may need to be used, which is made by a specialist hand therapist. Recovery may take several months.

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