OrthoVirginia Blog

Specialized Therapy for Tendon Injuires to the Hand

Katie Canestrano, OTR/L, Certified Hand Therapist

What types of tendon injuries do you see?

Tendon injuries can be isolated, such as a laceration from a knife; or in tandem with other traumas, like fractures and nerve lacerations. Some tendon injuries are the result of a cut, so there is an open wound. Others are called avulsions, when a finger is wrenched aggressively, and the tendon pulls out of the bone, but there is no bleeding or skin tear.

What is involved in therapy?

Therapy addresses all aspects of the injury: wound care, pain management, caring for the healing scar, motion recovery and, most importantly, restoring function to the hand.

What is the goal?

The goal of rehabilitation is to maximize the post-operative recovery, give the patient the best outcome possible, restore hand use and promote a return to independence: self care, work, leisure activities and activities of daily living.

Why is therapy so important for these patients?

Therapy for tendon injuries is very specialized. There is a delicate balance between controlled stress to strengthen the healing tissues, and proper positioning and rest to protect the repair. Too much motion can cause the repair to rupture; too little and scar adhesions develop and the tendon won’t function properly.

How does Commonwealth excel in this area?

Strong communication between surgeon and therapist is of vital importance. At Commonwealth, we have three certified hand therapists (CHTs) on staff who are in constant contact with our four hand surgeons. Because the surgeons and CHTs are all in-house, it promotes easy access. It’s not unusual for a surgeon to call me from the operating room to update me on a patient and initiate a treatment plan. This does not happen with other therapies.