Flexor Tendon Repair

Tendons are strong, flexible bands of connective tissue that attach muscles to bones.  They play an extremely important role in the function of the hand and injury to the tendons can cause loss of hand function.  The degree and severity of impairment depends on which specific tendon or tendons are injured.  Common classes of tendons that suffer injury are the flexor tendons, which are responsible for bending the fingers inward as in a fist. The most serious of tendon injuries is a ruptured tendon, where there is a complete separation of a tendon into two parts. This type of injury is usually the result of trauma.

Surgery to repair a ruptured tendon involves making an incision, locating both ends of the tendon, and suturing them back together. If a rupture is left untreated, the two tendon ends shorten over time, making repair more difficult as more time passes. With flexor tendon injuries it is very important repair occurs ASAP. This surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you will be able to go home on the same day of the surgery. You will be discharged with a temporary splint that must be kept clean and dry until you are seen for follow up, typically the next day. 

At your first follow up appointment you will be given a prescription for occupational therapy, and a splint. With a flexor tendon repair, you will wear a splint full time but starting 2 days after surgery you begin specific movement protocols, starting with controlled passive flexion and extension (closing and opening) of the affected fingers. Keeping the affected arm elevated on a couple of pillows can alleviate pain and swelling.  

You must wear your splint at all times, except when showering. You will be able to shower 48 hours after surgery; however, it is important that you do not submerge your surgical incision in water (i.e. no bath tubs, swimming pools, washing dishes, etc.). After showering, pat incision dry and replace splint.

Sutures will be removed 10-14 days after surgery. After suture removal, you will have scheduled follow up appointments about every 2 weeks for evaluation of progress of your recovery. You will continue your specific occupational therapy protocol during this time. 

You may resume your regular diet after surgery; however, you should start slow. It is a good idea to start with things like toast, Jell-O, crackers, and soup to see how your stomach tolerates food after anesthesia. Drink plenty of fluids such as water or Gatorade and limit your intake of sodas, coffee and other caffeinated beverages.  

We will send you home with a prescription for an antibiotic and a pain medication. It is important to take your antibiotic and pain medication with food to prevent nausea (unless you are instructed otherwise). Do not take your pain medication and antibiotic at the same time as this may upset your stomach; separate them by an hour or two. You cannot drive while taking pain medication.

Should you develop any of the following signs and or symptoms of possible infection, call our office immediately:

  1. Fever over 100.3
  2. Chills or night sweats
  3. Unusual swelling, redness, or warmth to your incision site
  4. Purulent drainage from incision site.

Please do not hesitate to call our office with any concerns or questions you may have.

Please remember the above instructions are only a guide. Always listen to the instructions given by your healthcare provider and follow those if in conflict with any listed above.

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