Our hands and fingers are among the most important assets to our body, so an injury, specifically to the hand’s control center, the flexor tendon, can open the door to a lengthy and exhausting road to recovery. If you are not familiar with the flexor tendon system, it consists of strong cords of tissue that connect the muscles of the forearm, through the wrist, and across the palm to the tips of the fingers and thumb. All four fingers connect to one primary muscle, which is responsible for controlling the middle knuckles and another muscle that controls the fingertips.
Flexor tendons are essential in enabling movement in the fingers and allow us to engage in simple activities like writing, holding a coffee cup, holding hands and zipping a coat. Unfortunately, this often overlooked muscle group can be damaged in an instant, so it’s important not to discount its value and susceptability to injury.
Injuries to the flexor tendons can happen so quickly that the individual affected by it does not have time to comprehend the severity of the damage. It’s important to know that almost any injury to the palm-side of the hand will involve the flexors.
When an injury does occur, more often than not, the cause of the injury is traumatic and can be be caused by something as simple as a laceration from the tip of a knife while cutting a vegetable, or a bit more harrowing such as a major contact injury from a table saw.
There are also closed inuries such as jersey finger that can result when a player grabs another player’s jersey as they pull away. The affected area mostly involves the tip of the finger, which is prone to avulsions and laceration injuries to the tendons.
Another common closed injury involving the covering of the tendons called sheaths can also occur. These are caused by overuse or strain and are usually categorized as tendonitis. Symptoms here are more subtle with a deep ache and sometimes a triggered or locked finger. Hand Therapy and an orthosis or brace can often help reduce swelling, however, in some cases, an injection or surgery is needed.
The good news in all of this is that treatment for a hand injury can be effective, but here’s the caveat, as we mentioned, it’s a tiring process, which will most likely require a surgical procedure, followed by a recovery period that can extend for several months and on. So do yourself a favor and keep your hands out of harms way – we know, it’s easier said than done.
There’s no denying that minor accidents will occur from time to time, so the more you know, the better you can prepare. If you have sustained an injury to your hand and are unsure of the steps needed to get back to life before the injury, stopy by your nearest ATI Physical Therapy clinic and ask our team for a complimentary injury screening. Our team will assess your injury, provide next step suggestions in care and get you on your way!