The human hand is composed of many tendons and tendons are tough cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones. When a group of muscles contract (tighten), the attached tendons pull on certain bones, allowing them to make a wide range of movements. Tendons, muscles, and bones work together to give the arms and hands a full range of movement. There are types of tendons in the hand:

  • Extensor Tendons run from the forearm across the back of the hand to the fingers and thumb, allowing straightening fingers and thumb. Extensor Tendon Injury of the Hand occurs when an extensor tendon is cut or torn from the bone. It is common when a ball or other object strikes the tip of the finger or thumb and forces it to bend.
  • Flexor Tendons run from the forearm through the wrist and across the palm allowing the fingers to bend

What happens when tendons get injured?

Hand tendon repair is needed when one or more tendons in the hand get ruptured (break or split) or cut, leading to loss of normal hand movement. If extensor tendons are damaged, one or more fingers cannot be straightened. If flexor tendons are damaged, one or more fingers cannot be bent. This type of damage can also cause severe pain and swelling (inflammation).


  • Cuts across the back or palm, or wrist can result in injury of tendons.
  • Sports injuries can happen when extensor or flexor tendons get injured while playing sports like cricket, basketball, lawn tennis, rugby, handball, rock climbing, etc.
  • Animal and human bites can cause tendon damage, or a severe fight can also lead to tendon damage
  • Trauma injuries like jamming a finger in a door or crushing a hand in a car accident can rupture a tendon
  • Rheumatoid arthritis makes the tendons inflamed which, if severe, can lead to the rupture of tendons.

Tendon Injury in Hand Symptoms

The most common symptoms of torn flexor tendon include:

  • An open cut/tear on the palm
  • Inability to bend or straighten one or more fingers
  • Severe pain
  • Tenderness in fingers
  • Numbness in fingertip

A tendon can't heal on its own. A Hand Surgeon’s treatment is required and most of the time requires surgery.

Tendon Injury in Hand Treatment

Most of the time, damage to the extensor or flexor tendons calls for the need of surgery, and surgery becomes necessary when the injury is severe or due to trauma. Extensor tendons are easier to reach, and repairing them is relatively easy as compared to the flexor tendon injury as they lie in the deeper plane and have vital structures near the tendons in comparison to the extensor tendons.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Both types of tendon surgery require a long period of recovery (rehabilitation) as tendons take weeks to heal. Depending on the location of the injury, it can take up to three months for the repaired tendon to regain its previous strength.

Rehabilitation involves protecting the tendons from overuse and might need the use of a hand splint. It's important to avoid getting the splint wet, so covering it with a plastic bag while having a bath or shower will usually be recommended.

Light activities can often be resumed soon after surgery and heavy activities and sport is usually allowed after ten to twelve weeks. Since these tendons are close to the skin’s surface, any sort of deep cut or tear can injure a flexor tendon. Sometimes thumb tendon injury, wrist, palm, or any other finger injury might appear minor but in reality, it can completely prevent fingers from bending or moving.

Several different hand exercises are suggested after the surgical treatments for a tendon injury in the hand and wrist, and these exercises help prevent the repaired tendons from getting stuck to surrounding tissues, helping in quick recovery. The specific exercises recommended by the therapist or hand surgeon vary according to the type of tendon injury and the recovery it requires.

Prevention of tendon damage in the hand

For high-impact sports, it is always recommended to wear safety gear to prevent minor to traumatic

While using or handling sharp or heavy machinery or tools, protective gloves are mandatory.

Post-Surgery Care

It is advised to keep the hand above the heart level whenever possible to help reduce swelling.

For example, it is advised to raise the arm on cushions while seated or to hold the arm up to the other shoulder while standing and walking.

Exercises are started within a day of surgery and this help in quick recovery.

Driving is not allowed for several weeks after the surgery

Returning to Normal Life

How quickly one can return to work and resume normal daily activities depends on the nature of the job, as well as the type and location of the injury. The repaired tendon usually takes twelve weeks to regain full strength, but it can take up to six months to regain the full range of movement.

In general, one can:

  • Resume light activities, such as using a keyboard or writing with a pen, at six weeks.
  • drive a car, motorcycle, or heavy goods vehicle (HGV) after eight to ten weeks
  • resume medium activities, such as light lifting or shelf stacking, eight to ten weeks
  • resume heavy activities, such as heavy lifting or building work, after ten to twelve weeks
  • resume sporting activities after ten to twelve weeks

Few More Tips

Post tendon surgery of the hand, one should be careful enough while carrying out everyday activities like:

  • Squeezing toothpaste tubes or shampoo bottles
  • Getting out of the bath
  • Opening doors
  • Getting dressed and undressed

The Centre of Orthopaedics hand, wrist, and Joint Replacement is a state-of-the-art facility at Aakash Healthcare and is considered amongst the best orthopedic hospitals in Delhi NCR. The Centre provides systemic treatment and cares for a torn tendon in the thumb, tendonitis in the fingers,

All orthopaedic complications and joint issues. Aakash is the top orthopaedic hospital in Dwarka, and some of the best hand surgeons in Delhi are available for Hand surgeries the center specializes in trauma and sports injury. If you are suffering from hand tendon pain, tendonitis in your finger, central slip extensor tendon injury, or any other hand and wrist-related injury, book an appointment and consult our specialists today.

Also, Read: What is Wrist Arthritis and do you know what it feels like?

with Dr. Neeraj Godara


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