Dr Pr. D’Agostino, MD, PhD

Hand Clinic Brussels - Lasne

LOUISE +32 2 534 29 99 LASNE +32 2 653 11 11

Extensor tendon injuries

QT Pathologies (EN)

Extensor tendons, located on the back of the hand and fingers, allow you to straighten your fingers and thumb. These tendons are attached to muscles in the forearm.

As the tendons continue into the fingers, they become flat and thin.

In the fingers, smaller tendons from small muscles in the hand join these tendons. It is these small-muscle tendons that allow delicate finger motions and coordination.

  • Anatomy of the extensor tendons of the fingers Anatomy of the extensor tendons of the fingers Anatomy images courtesy and copyright of Primal Pictures Ltd – www.primalpictures.com
  • Anatomy images courtesy and copyright of Primal Pictures Ltd – www.primalpictures.com

Extensor tendons are just under the skin, directly on the bone, on the back of the hands and fingers. Because of their location, even a minor cut can easily injure them.

Jamming a finger may cause these thin tendons to rip apart from their attachment to the bone.

(See also Mallet finger and Boutonnière deformity sections)

After this type of injury, you may have a hard time straightening one or more joints. Treatment is necessary to return use to the tendon and finger.

A hand surgeon will test the tendons individually to ascertain their integrity and decide if a repair is needed.

X-rays may be taken if the injury was caused by glass.

Lacerations or cuts that split the tendon may need stitches followed by splinting to protect the repair. The splint for a tendon injury in this area may include the wrist and part of the finger. Dynamic splinting, which is a splint with slings that allows some finger motion, may be used for injuries of this kind. The dynamic splint allows early movement and protects the healing tendon.

Tears caused by jamming injuries are usually treated with splints. Splints stop the healing ends of the tendons from pulling apart and should be worn at all times until the tendon is fully healed. Your doctor will apply the splint in the correct place and give you directions on how long to wear it.

Extensor tendon injuries may form scar that causes the tendon to adhere to nearby bone and scar tissue, limiting the movement of the tendon. The scar tissue that forms may prevent full finger bending and straightening even with the best of treatment. Many factors can affect the seriousness of the injury, including fracture, infection, medical illnesses, and individual differences. To improve motion, hand therapy may be necessary. Surgery to free scar tissue may sometimes by helpful in serious cases of motion loss.

During your consultation, Dr. D'Agostino will discuss the current treatment options and can help you choose the best treatment based on your particular case.