Accessibility Tools

Anatomy of Hand Tendons

Tendons are bands of fibrous connective tissue that connect muscles to bone. Tendons aid in the movement of the fingers, hand and all other body parts.

There are two types of tendons present in the hand: the extensor tendons and flexor tendons. Extensor tendons present on top of the hand help straighten the fingers, while flexor tendons that lie on the palm side of the hand help in bending the fingers.

What are Flexor Tendon Injuries?

Deep cuts on the under surface of the wrist, hand or fingers can cut and injure the tendon, and make it unable to bend one or more joints in a finger. When a tendon gets cut, the cut ends gets pulled away from each other like a rubber band.

Flexor tendon tears may be partial or complete. If tendons are completely cut through, the finger joints cannot bend on their own.

Causes of Flexor Tendon Injuries

Any cut or laceration in the arm, hand or fingers can cause a flexor tendon injury. Other possible causes include:

  • Damage to the tendon from a sports injury, often associated with football, rugby and wrestling
  • Stretching of the tendon where the tendon is pulled off the bone
  • Jersey finger: When a player’s finger catches on another player’s jersey or clothing
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Adventurous activities such as rock climbing

Symptoms of Flexor Tendon Injuries

Inform your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Recent cut to hand or fingers
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Loss of ability to bend the finger
  • Numbness (loss of sensation)
  • First Aid for Flexor Tendon Injuries
  • Apply ice immediately to the injured finger. Wrap a sterile cloth or bandage around the injury and keep your finger elevated above your heart level to reduce bleeding if present. A tetanus injection may need to be administered.

Diagnosis of Flexor Tendon Injuries

Make sure to see a doctor when you sustain a finger injury that is affecting the flexion and extension of your fingers.

Your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history. A physical examination of both your hands will be performed. During the examination, you will be asked to bend and straighten your fingers. Your fingers will also be examined for sensation, blood flow and strength. An X-ray may be ordered to check for any damage to the surrounding bone.

Treatment for Flexor Tendon Injuries

If the tendon is not fully ruptured it can be treated using nonsurgical methods. The hand is protected for 10-12 weeks until strength returns. Your doctor may recommend range of motion exercises to help recovery.

Other Wrist & Hand Topics

  • American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons
  • AOSSM-American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • Midwestern University