Hands move because of the muscles in the forearms contract, and these muscles end in tendons that then connect to the bones of the wrist, hands and fingers. As the muscles contract and shorten, the tendons move the fingers or wrist. Each part that moves has a flexor and extensor tendon to bend or straighten the respective finger or wrist.
Tendons are always under some tension, and when the tendon is cut the ends separate. Healing will not occur unless the tendon ends are brought back together and kept in this position for 4-6 weeks. This requires surgical preparation, and there are many complex methods to do this. Tendons in the hand are particularly susceptible to injury from deep cuts because they lie so close under the skin. If a torn or cut tendon is not properly repaired, it will be impossible for the patient to bend or straighten the joint - which will cause significant functional loss to the hand, wrist, or fingers.
Surgery is almost always needed for a torn tendon. Tendons should be surgically repaired within one to seven days of injury for the best possible outcome. A hand tendon repair is usually an outpatient procedure, and patients can go home on the same day. The finger joint must be immobilized in a splint to protect the repaired tendon initially, and therapy to regain motion is usually begun 3 to 5 days after the repair. Full healing can take two to three months or more.
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