Any profound wound on the palm aspect of the fingers, wrist, hand or forearm can damage the flexor tendons which are the tissues that help control hand movement. A flexor tendon injury will make it impossible for the individual to bend the fingers or thumb. To learn to recognize and manage tendon injuries, sign up for a first aid course today.
What is a flexor tendon injury?
A cut or torn tendon in the forearm at the palm, wrist or along the finger can cause difficulty in bending one or several joints in a finger. Since the flexor tendons are closely positioned to the skin surface, a deep cut will surely hit the tendon in which it is cut in two.
Just like a rubber band, the tendons are under tension as they connect the muscle to the bone. In case a tendon is cut or torn, the ends will pull farther apart, thus making it impossible to heal on its own. Since the nerves are also close to the tendons, they can also be damaged. This results to numbness on one or both sides of the finger. When the blood vessels are involved, the finger will have no blood supply and entails immediate surgery.
What are the causes?
Aside from wounds on the hand, arm or fingers, certain sports can lead to flexor tendon injuries. These injuries typically occur during wrestling, football and rugby.
There are also certain health issues such as rheumatoid arthritis that can weaken the flexor tendon and can make them likely to tear. Remember that this can occur unexpectedly or without any injury where the individual will detect that his/her finger could not bend but could not recall what happened.
What are the symptoms?
- Open injury such as a cut on the palm, usually in areas where the skin folds while the finger bends
- Difficulty in bending one or several joints in the finger
- Pain when finger is being bent
- Numbness in the fingertip
- Tenderness throughout the finger on the palm area of the hand
Diagnosing flexor tendon injuries
It is vital to consult a doctor once fingers are injured in any way. Remember that this is true if the finger is jammed and cannot be bent or straightened.
When an individual sustained a severe cut to the hand or fingers, you have to apply an ice pack right away. Make sure that you will securely wrap the hand using a clean cloth or bandage to control the bleeding. You have to keep the hand elevated higher than the level of the heart. The doctor will initially clean and treat any wounds that are not deep. In most cases, a tetanus shot or antibiotics might be given to prevent infection.
Once the hand has been assessed by the doctor, it will be placed in a splint for protection. The tendons will not properly heal unless the ends are in contact with one another, which do not take place with a complete tear. In most circumstances, a torn or cut should be repaired with surgery.