If you have recently gone through a serious injury to your hand, wrist, or forearm, then you may have experienced some tendon damage. If the damage occurred to one of the flexor tendons, then this likely means that you cannot move one of your fingers. Flexor tendons connect to your fingers through the palm and wrist. If one of the tendons is cut or broken in some way, then an orthopedic surgeon can make a repair. Most repairs will occur with non-absorbable braided sutures. Stitches will be placed in an interlocking pattern through the ends of the tendon to help keep the tissue in place so it can heal. Even with the interlocking stitches, the tendon can come apart after the repair. This is called tendon snap and another surgery will be required to repair the flexor again. You can work to prevent tendon snap with the following tips.
Wear Your Splint
You will be fitted with a relatively complex splint after your flexor surgery to keep the repaired tendon immobile. Flexor tendons are responsible for providing your fingers with movement, but you will be unable to move your finger attached to the flexor tendon until it fully heals. The tendon will become long and stretched as the finger becomes extended, so a splint is needed that keeps the finger bent down close to your palm. There are a wide variety of different types of splints that can be provided. If possible, ask for a splint with hard plastic to keep your finger as still as possible. The splint will need to wrap around the hand. For the best comfort, choose a canvas or cotton variety with velcro closures.
Splints with velcro are removable, but you absolutely should not remove your splint until your hand surgeon says you can. It can take up to two months for the tendon to heal completely, so be prepared for a long wear period. You should not get your brace wet at all or the fabric parts of the splint can stretch out and loosen. Also, a wet splint can build with mold and cause a rash. Water can attract bacteria as well and cause an infection around the incision area. To prevent these problems, place a plastic bag over your brace before taking a shower or bath.
If you need to remove the splint for any reason, like if a sore needs to be treated underneath the brace, then make an appointment with your physician. He or she can help to hold your finger in place as the brace is removed.
Complete Your Exercises
When you first wear your splint, you may be asked to keep your hand elevated for several days. This will help to reduce swelling and pressure on the repair area to minimize tendon snap issues. After a week or more, you will need to start to completing some exercises to move the unsplinted fingers of your injured hand. The exercises help to move the tendons that sit next to the repaired flexor. This prevents the repaired flexor from attaching to the nearby tendons during the healing process. If this happens and you move one of your healthy fingers, then the repaired tendon will move as well and it can break.
The initial exercises will involve you moving the healthy fingers with your uninjured hand. Place the fingers in the palm of the hand and gently bend them into a fist. Gently uncurl the fingers as well. You will need to do this several times a day for the first three weeks of the healing period.
Once healing progresses, start moving your healthy fingers on their own. Also, begin massaging the scar after exterior stitches are removed from the incision site. Massages will reduce the formation of scar tissues that can place stress on the repaired tendon. For more information on this topic, contact a hand surgery specialist by visiting a site like http://www.towncenterorthopaedics.com.