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Flexor Tendon Rupture

What is It?

The flexor tendons of the fingers allow the fingers to bend and grip. When the tendon is no longer attached to the bone at the end of the finger (rupture), it is impossible to bend the fingertip.

What is it caused by?

The most common cause of a flexor tendon injury is a deep cut to the finger. When cut, the tendon acts like a rubber band, and the ends pull away from one another. When this happens, it becomes impossible to bend the tip of the finger. Sometimes, the flexor tendon may tear or pull away from the bone. In sports such as rugby or rugby league, a player may grab another players jersey, and get their finger may get caught in the fabric of the jersey causing the flexor tendon to tear. This injury is called a ‘jersey finger’.

How is it treated?

The torn FDP tendon may retract slightly, remaining within the finger, or it can retract more fully into the palm of the hand. This injury requires surgical repair as soon as possible! After surgery, when the tendon is re-attached to the bone, a three month period of rehabilitation begins. Hand therapy is an integral part of this rehabilitation. A custom-made splint is provided to protect the repair (See figure 2) and the patient is taught how to manage their scar and swelling, while a gradual movement and exercise programme is commenced and monitored.

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