Flexor Tendon Injury and Treatment for Tendons in the Hand

Having an injury to the hand or fingers can indicate a need for treatment of the tendons in the hand called flexor tendons. Most commonly these flexor tendon injuries occur from cuts and lacerations to a part of the forearm, hand or wrist causing difficulty bending the fingers and thumbs or wrist.

Since flexor tendons lie near the surface of the skin, a deeper cut typically results in injury to the tendon. With a partial tear, you may still have some movement of your arm, hand or fingers but it will be limited. At times you may experience numbness and tingling in the effected area signaling tendon injury.

What is a Flexor Tendon?

Tendons are tough cords of tissue that connect your muscles to the bone and power the muscles to move our bones. They help us bend our fingers and make a fist. They act similar to a rubber band that is holding tension to secure things in place. Tendons are housed inside a tunnel or tube-like compartment known as the tendon sheath, serving to keep the tendons in place adjacent to your bones.

The tendons that lie on the top of the hand are used to straighten the fingers and are called extensor tendons. The tendons on the palm side assist in bending the fingers and are known as flexor tendons.

When injured, it is important to see a hand surgeon immediately and to seek treatment early for your best functional outcomes. According to the 2010 study of functional outcomes, time elapsed from injury to surgery is one important indicator of how well you will recover movement and feeling. (1). The shorter the time lapse, the better your chances for improvement.

Dr. Jason Ashford, board certified hand surgeon is here to meet your needs in the greater Houston and Conroe, Texas area with prompt diagnosis and treatment.


While lacerations or cuts cause the majority of tendon injuries, not all are due to accidents. Wear and tear on your tendon due to aging, sports or overuse can result in the tendon pulling away from the bone and rupturing.

Flexor Tendon Injury

Often sports activities can be the cause of flexor tendon injuries. If you participate in football, wrestling or other similar contact sports, you may experience what is commonly known as “ jersey finger”. In these cases, the tendon has separated or pulled away from the bone.

Rock climbing or exercise requiring extreme hand and arm strength may also lead to stretching or tearing of the tendon or it’s housing, the sheath.

Certain medical conditions are more prone to these tears and injuries and include such diseases as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). With RA, you may experience a weakening in the flexor tendons causing them to be more prone to tearing. At times damage could occur quickly without warning until you find that your finger cannot bend.

Flexor Tendon Injury Symptoms

If you experience loss of range of movements in part of your arm, even after a smaller laceration, you may be experiencing tendon injury. Other indicators include:

  • Laceration or open injury in the palm side of hand
  • Inability to bend finger(s) at the joint
  • Pain in the fold of the finger when bent
  • Palm side finger tenderness
  • Numbness in the finger or fingertip

With any laceration or cut of the lower extremities, you need to seek medical advice and diagnosis.


It is well documented in studies that most flexor tendon injuries of the hand cannot heal without surgical treatment (2). This is because when torn or cut, the two ends of the tendon require surgical re-attachment so that healing can occur. This is unlike other tendon injuries such as the Achilles tendon, which may be isolated into a plantar flexion position to heal. This is not usually the case with flexor tendon tears.

Following surgery you may be required to use a splint and undergo occupational hand therapy with a certified hand therapist.


After surgery many people experience some degree of scarring and stiffness. Occasionally additional surgeries are necessary to improve these conditions. Your hand therapy will begin immediately after surgery and it is very important to follow the advice and recommendations of your specific treatment plan. This will help you heal faster and with better chances of regaining functionality and mobility of your hand and fingers.

It is important to remember that the process of this type of injury and repair may take many months before the healing is complete.

In order to improve your chances of full range of motion and best outcomes in Houston and Conroe, Texas, contact our experienced team of hand surgeons led by Dr. Jason Ashford.

(1) Outcome of early active mobilization after flexor tendons repair in zones II-V in hand.

Saini N, Kundnani V, Patni P, Gupta S

Indian J Orthop. 2010 Jul; 44(3):314-21.


(2) Open Orthop J. 2012; 6: 28–35.

Published online 2012 Feb 23. doi: 10.2174/1874325001206010028