A flexor tendon injury occurs when the tendon is cut or ruptures. The flexor tendons begin in your forearm and continue to the palm side of your fingers and thumb. Each finger has two flexor tendons and your thumb has one. They are located just underneath the skin. Sheaths thickened in areas by fibrous pulleys guide the flexor tendons and keep them close to your phalanges during motion. The flexor tendons allow your fingers and thumbs to bend, grasp items, and perform fine co-ordinated movements.
Flexor tendon injuries can cause loss of movement, pain, and swelling. Deep cuts are the main cause of flexor tendon injuries. They may also occur during sports, such as football, wrestling, rugby, and rock climbing. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause flexor tendons to rupture. The outward injury often appears simple, but is usually complex when involving the tendons and possibly the nerves.
A flexor tendon injury can cause your finger joints to feel painful and swollen. It may be difficult or impossible for you to move your finger. You may not be able to bend your finger joints. Nerves are located very close to the flexor tendon. If the nerves are injured, your finger may feel numb.
Flexor tendon injuries do not heal well without surgical repair. When a flexor tendon separates, the two pieces pull away from each other, making it impossible for the tendon to heal without surgery.
There are many ways to surgically repair flexor tendons. Certain types of injuries need specific types of surgery. Your hand surgeon will stitch the ends of the tendon together and repair damaged nerves, blood vessels, or bones.