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Causes of Flexor Tendon Injuries

Cuts or lacerations on the undersurface of the wrist, hand, or fingers can injure the tendons causing you to be unable to bend the joints in your fingers.

Other causes of a flexor tendon injury include:

  • Damage from a sports injury
  • Jersey finger: When a player’s finger catches on the jersey or clothing of another player
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Activities such as rock climbing or wrestling

Symptoms of Flexor Tendon Injuries

Flexor tendon tears may be partial or complete. If the tear is complete, the finger joints cannot bend independently.

Other symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Numbness in the tip of your finger
  • Pain when attempting to bend the finger
  • Tenderness along your finger

How Flexor Tendon Injuries are Diagnosed

To diagnose a flexor tendon injury, your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms. In addition, a physical examination will be done on both hands. During the exam, your fingers will be checked for flexibility, blood flow, strength, and sensation. An X-ray may be taken to determine the severity of the injury.

Treatments for Flexor Tendon Injuries

Immediately after a cut or laceration, the wound should be treated by applying ice. Be sure to wrap a sterile cloth around the injury and keep your finger elevated above heart level to reduce bleeding. A tetanus shot may also be necessary.


A ruptured tendon cannot heal on its own because when a tendon is cut, it acts like a rubber band, where the cut ends are pulled away from each other. Thus, surgery is done to repair the tendon.

Flexor tendon repair is an outpatient procedure performed under general or local anesthesia. During the procedure, a surgeon will make an incision over the tendon and bring together the damaged ends of the tendon by using sutures. For more severe injuries, a graft may be required. 

After repositioning the tendon, the incision is closed with sutures, and a dressing pad will be placed over the surgical site. Your surgeon will then place your hand in a splint to restrict movement. Physical therapy may also be recommended for a few weeks following the procedure.

Possible Complications

Like with any surgery, there is a small risk for complications. 

Possible complications may include:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Stiffness
  • Re-rupturing of the tendon
  • Damage to surrounding nerves and blood vessels

A second surgery may be required to release any excess scar tissue interfering with finger movement.

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