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Extensor Tendon Injuries

What are Extensor Tendon injuries?

Extensor tendons are the tendons on the back of the hand that allow for the straightening of the fingers and thumb. They extend from the muscles of the forearms through the wrist and onto the hand, and, from there, smaller extensor tendons extend onto the fingers, where they are responsible for fine motor function.

What causes Extensor Tendon injuries?

Because of the relative lack of flesh on the hand, the extensor tendons are very close to both the underlying bone and the skin above, so they are prone to injury. Almost any trauma to the hands carries a risk of tendon injury, such as a laceration, which would cut a tendon, or a jam or twist in a finger, which could tear a tendon.

What are symptoms of Extensor Tendon injuries?

Because of their important role in manual mobility and dexterity, extensor tendons have highly noticeable consequences, many of which involve the complete inability to move certain parts of the finger or hand. Often, the finger will take on an unusual shape (as in the case of Boutonniere Finger or Mallet Finger), which indicates immediately that there is extensor tendon damage.

How to diagnose Extensor Tendon injuries

Because these are soft-tissue injuries, X-rays are not very effective at pinpointing what the problem is, but once a physical examination is performed by the doctor, MRI imaging can be used to form a three-dimensional picture of what is going on inside of the hands or fingers and provide a map for how to fix it. Because tendons most often contract when they are severed, it is important for the doctor to reconnect the two parts as soon as possible to avoid any lasting complications.

Treatment Options

Non-surgical treatment of Extensor Tendon injuries

In the case of a more violent tear, such as can occur as the result of jammed finger, it is likely that the doctor will employ a splint to hold the finger in place as the tendon heals. After splinting, it is very important to be rigorous in your therapy sessions, as there is a real risk of loss of function in these types of tendon injures.

Surgical treatment of Extensor Tendon injuries

In cases where the tendon has been cut cleanly by a laceration, it is most likely that the doctor will join the pieces together with stitches, as the clean cut lends itself well to this sort of treatment. As with the non-surgical treatments, after an intial period of immobilization, it is important for you to engage in regular occupational or physical therapy to avoid any lasting stiffness or problems with the tendons.

How can Dr. Knight help you with Extensor Tendon injuries?

The extensor tendons are integral to the function of the hand, so it is important that any injury to them be treated as quickly and effectively as possible. Dr. Knight has extensive experience treating these kinds of injuries, and will inform you of the best possible treatment plan in order to restore full function and use to your hands.

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