Tendons are the connections between the muscles and bones. They allow muscles to bend and straighten joints. For example in the arm, they run from muscles of the forearm and hand and stick on to the bones of the wrist and fingers. This allows the muscles to bend and straighten the wrist and fingers. Tendon injuries are common, often from glass or knife cuts. They can also be pulled off the bone e.g. when a finger is bent backwards at high energy. If the cut in the tendon is very small or sometimes when pulled off the bone, repair may not be required. However, the majority of tendons need to be surgically repaired.
The two ends of the tendon are sutured together and then need time to heal around the stitch. The hand is placed into a splint to protect the tendon during this time (4 to 8 weeks depending on the injury). To prevent the hand from getting too stiff during this period, usually a series of protected exercises are started under the supervision of a hand therapist. It is important to follow these exercises properly but not to overdo use of the hand. This regime allows the best recovery from a tendon injury.
It is also important to seek help early for a cut tendon. If too long a time passes it may not be possible to directly suture the ends together. The tendon can be reconstructed (see tendon reconstruction section) but this involves a longer rehabilitation period and often more than one operation.