Hand Tendon repair and Hand Tendon grafting in Auckland New Zealand
If one or more of the tendons of the hand are damaged, you may require tendon repair surgery or tendon grafting to regain the full function of your hand and fingers.
Dr. Mark Gittos in Auckland, New Zealand offers treatment for hand tendon injuries. Dr. Mark is a well-known plastic surgeon who has a lot of experience in hand surgery. In this article, we will shed the light on hand tendon injuries, and how Dr. Mark treats them.
What are Hand Tendons?
You can think of tendons as fibrous cords that connect the muscles in your forearm to your fingers and hand, so that when the muscles contract, they pull the tendons, moving the hand and fingers in different directions. Tendons of the hand are usually classified into two groups depending on their function:
- Extensor tendons: These tendons run from your forearm to the backside of your hand and fingers and attach to the bone there. These tendons are responsible for extending your fingers into a straight position.
- Flexor tendons: These tendons travel across your forearm to the palmar side of your hand and fingers, and they are responsible for bending them.
If either of these groups is damaged, surgical repair might be required.
Causes of Hand Tendon injury
If one of the tendons in your hand becomes cut or ruptures, you might not be able to properly move the affected finger anymore. Tendon repair surgery is done to restore the mobility of your fingers. Some of the causes of hand tendon damage that might require repair or grafting:
- Cut injuries: deep cuts to your palm or the backside of your hand can sever the tendons
- Sports injuries: Contact sports, ball catching, rock climbing, and other sports that include physical stress to the fingers can cause hand tendon rupture.
- Bites: Human or animal bites can cut deep and lead to cutting or crushing of the tendons in the hands. Another mechanism is the injury sustained when punching another person on their teeth.
- Crushing injuries: If your hand gets crushed while closing a door or during an accident, this could lead to tendon rupture
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease of the joints and tendons that can affect the tendons of the hand and make them vulnerable to injury.
Symptoms of Hand Tendon Injury
Since hand tendon damage is usually caused by trauma, symptoms are straightforward:
- Loss of finger mobility: If an extensor tendon is damaged, you will be unable to fully straighten your affected finger. If the problem is in one of the flexor tendons, you won’t be able to properly bend the affected finger.
- Pain and swelling: When a tendon is injured it becomes inflamed, and this can lead to swelling and pain
Treatment of Hand Tendon Injury
When hand tendon injury is suspected after trauma, an x-ray of the hand and forearm might be ordered to rule out any other associated injuries such as fractures.
Tendon injuries are not usually considered an emergency, however, the operation should not be delayed more than a few days after injury to avoid the formation of scar tissue and permanent loss of mobility. Sometimes, minor injuries to extensor tendons may be treated without surgery, and you will only need to wear a splint for a few weeks.
In most other hand tendon injuries, surgery is the main treatment. Tendon repair surgery is done under local anesthesia or general anesthesia. Local anesthesia means that Dr Mark will numb your whole arm, but you will remain awake. General anesthesia means the anaesthetist will ensure that you will be completely asleep and won’t feel anything during surgery.
For Tendon Surgery Dr. Mark will then:
- Perform an incision on the skin above the injured tendon.
- Explore the wound to see if there is any associated damage or debris from the injury
- Connect the two ends of the tendon and sew them together
- Close the skin with stitches
- Apply a sterile gauze dressing
- Put your hand in a splint to immobilize it
In some cases, the tendon might be extensively damaged, and there’s not enough left of it to be reattached together. In such cases, Dr. Mark will perform a tendon graft. Tendon grafting is when Dr. Mark takes a tendon from another part of the body (like the foot or toe) and grafts it to replace the injured tendon. In addition to hand tendon grafting, Dr. Mark may choose to perform tendon transfer. In this technique, he will relocate one of the adjacent tendons and reattach it instead of the injured tendon to perform its function.
Surgery can take as little as 30 minutes to complete but can extend to a couple of hours if the injury is extensive or complex.
Recovery after Hand Tendon Injury
Recovering from tendon repair can take some time. Your tendons will remain weak after surgery and will slowly regain normal strength. This process can take up to 3 months and can vary a lot depending on the level of injury and the surgical procedure that was performed.
You will probably be asked to wear a splint to protect your hand for a few weeks. You might be prescribed physical therapy, and you will learn some stretching exercises to do at home.
You can expect to go back to light activities in 6 to 8 weeks, and to full activities (including sports) by 12 weeks.
Results of Hand Tendon Grafting and Treatment
Predicting the outcomes accurately is sometimes hard. It depends on the type and degree of injury. Satisfactory outcomes are more likely when the injury is a clean-cut, as opposed to a crushing injury.
Extensor tendon repair surgery is usually more successful in restoring full mobility, while after flexor tendon repair, you might remain unable to move some of your fingers in full range. Nevertheless, surgery still produces better outcomes than not having surgery.
Complications and Risks of Hand Surgery
Hand surgery incurs risks and complications like all invasive surgery. Dr Gittos will make you aware of potential complications during your consultation. This includes general anaesthesia risks, bleeding (Hematoma), infection, wound healing, deep vein thrombosis, scarring and numbness. Always stay informed and healthy, do NOT smoke before or after your procedure and read & understand your risks of surgery.
Medical Sources and Further Reading:
- NHS Article on Repairing Hand Tendons
- Orthinfo Article on Hand Tendon Grafting
- Mayoclinic Article on Definitions related to Hand Injury
- Cooper Health Article on Tendon Repair
How to Find the best hand surgeon in Auckland, NZ
Always choose a top specialist plastic surgeon or hand surgery expert for your hand surgery to ensure an excellent outcome. As a general rule it is better to avoid the cheap option when seeking surgery. Look at your surgeons online reviews and testimonials to find out how they look after their patients and what their patient says about them.
Why Choose Dr Mark Gittos?
Dr. Mark Gittos in Auckland, New Zealand is a renowned plastic surgeon who’s experienced in treating hand injuries and disorders, such as nerve compression disorders, ligament or tendon injuries, among others. If you’d like to learn more about your condition, call us to set an appointment with Dr. Mark to get a full assessment and discuss treatment options.
Make an Appointment for a Hand Consultation with Dr Gittos
If you have any symptoms that might be related to a hand tendon injury, please call to make an appointment with Dr. Mark Gittos in Auckland, New Zealand. Dr. Mark is a plastic surgeon who is experienced in treating a wide range of hand disorders, such as trigger finger, De Quervain’s syndrome, cubital and radial tunnel syndromes, carpal tunnel syndrome, ligament disorders, and tumours or ganglions. Come visit us to get a full assessment of your condition and learn about your treatment options.