General Hands

Injuries to the Extensor Tendon

You have a number of important tendons throughout your hand. One of these is the extensor tendon, which is situated on the back of your hand and which allows you to straighten your fingers. The extensor tendons are all connected to muscles located in your arm and they extend all the way down the whole finger. Once in the finger, where space is smaller, the extensor tendons attach to smaller tendons that are, in turn, attached to small muscles. All of this works together to give you control over your fingers. At times, these tendons can become injured and can cause problems as well as pain.

Types of Extensor Tendon Injuries

Extensor tendons in your hand are very close to the surface of your skin. In fact, you can probably see them moving from time to time. Almost any injury to the back of the hand can do damage to the tendons, including:

  • Jamming your finger
  • Cutting the back of your hand
  • Bruising the back of your hand

Essentially, any injury can cause damage. Whenever the extensor tendon is injured, you may find it difficult to straighten your fingers properly. Tendon damage can be painful as well.

There are a few very common injuries to the extensor tendons, including the following:

  • Mallet Finger is a condition in which the extensor tendon is no longer connected to the bone in the finger, whether it was cut or torn away. When this happens, the fingertip will not be able to straighten. It happens most commonly through a cut or through jamming the finger and will require stitches to the tendon itself. Splinting will also be needed to ensure the finger stays straight.
  • Boutonniere deformities occur when the tendon is damaged at the middle joint of the finger, meaning the majority of the finger itself will not straighten out. If the tendon has been cut or torn, then it will need stitches. If it is just injured, then splinting will be used.
  • Cuts to the back of the hand can often sever one of the extensor tendons since they are so close to the skin. In this case, one or more fingers may not straighten. Splinting will need to extend from the wrist all the way down the injured finger.

Because the extensor tendons are so close to the surface, injury can happen very easily. It only takes a small amount of hand trauma to affect the tendons directly.

Treatment may change as well if there is other damage to the fingers, such as fractures or infections.

If you think you have an injury to an extensor tendon, then you will notice that you cannot straighten out one or more of your fingers. Additionally, if you have had damage or injury to the back of your hand, this will let you know the extensor tendons could be involved. You will need to see a doctor for treatment because a torn tendon will always require stitches. Additionally, you will need to learn how to properly splint your hand for healing.