Dr. Scott A. Putney, Hand and Upper Extremities, Tuckahoe OrthopaedicsBy Scott A. Putney, MD
Lacerations of the thumb extensor tendon are quite common and, usually, quite painful. If more than 50 percent of the tendon has been lacerated it will likely require surgical correction, but those with less serious lacerations often try to heal naturally. Thumb extensor tendons usually damage immediately from a cut, but can also be a symptom of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or found in patients that have a fractured wrist.

What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms are generally an obvious cut and the inability to straighten the thumb. If the injury is due to a laceration, it will typically be diagnosed in the ER and can usually be repaired with surgery. If you haven’t injured yourself and your doctor determines that it is due to a medical condition, or a spontaneous rupture due to a fractured wrist, it might be necessary to replace the tendon completely.

The Thumb Tendon Repair Operation

Prior to the operation, your hand will be examined with x-rays. The operation is typically conducted with general anesthetic and then the wound is cleaned out. An incision is then made in your hand and the two ends of the ruptured tendon will be stitched together. Then the wound is closed with stitches and a splint.

Thumb Tendon Repair Recovery Process

In order to allow the tendon to fully recover, it will require a brief period of immobilization. This is usually followed by a carefully structured therapy program that lasts about 10 to 12 weeks in order to rehabilitate the tendon properly. It’s important to find a balance between moving too much and not moving enough, so a therapist will work with you to make sure that you’re getting the right amount of exercise without straining your thumb and risking further injury.

There are many locations that you can cut your thumb extensor tendon, so you should work with your doctor to determine the type of surgery necessary and the amount of rehabilitation that it calls for.

Repairing a thumb extensor tendon is an important procedure to help you regain full mobility of your thumb after a laceration.

Request an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon in order to get the best possible care for your symptoms and physical condition.


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