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What is a Flexor Tendon?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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The flexor tendon is a specific type of tendon that is located in the forearm. Its function is to connect muscles of the body to the bones. The flexor tendon connects to the muscles that are responsible for moving the fingers, including the thumb. These muscles are known as the flexor muscles.

The flexor tendon begins at the flexor muscles located in the arm. From there, the tendon goes through the wrist, ultimately attaching itself to the bones of the fingers. Once in the fingers, the flexor tendon moves through a pulley-like system made from rings of fibrous tissue. This system allows the tendon to remain close to the bone while assisting in the guidance of the tendon and helps in the efficiency of finger movement.

Injuries relating to the flexor tendon are relatively common. These injuries can result from such things as deep cuts or tears. When a tendon has been cut, it is common for there to be no outward signs at all. Even with no visible signs of injury, there can be extensive internal damage to the flexor tendon if it has been cut or torn.

When a flexor tendon is cut or torn, it basically snaps like a rubber band. If the tendon is only partially cut, limited movement of the fingers may still be possible. However, repeated finger movement could cause the tendon to finish tearing all the way through. When this happens, the joints of the fingers are not able to move on their own at all.

With a tendon that has been cut, healing is impossible without some sort of surgical intervention. The ends of the tendon that are separated due to the cut can grow back together, but they surgery is a necessary step in order for the body's natural healing properties to work. The exact type of surgical repair necessary will depend upon the individual injury. The healing process from this type of surgery can several weeks.

It is worth noting that it is not uncommon to have some degree of permanent impairment with this type of injury, even after surgery. Scar tissue is often the primary cause of impaired finger movement. For this reason, the surgeon will often give the patient some stretching and exercise tips in an effort to promote healing in such a way that movement will be compromised as little as possible.

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