Extensor Tendon Injury

Tendons in the finger area lie just beneath the skin, so they are prone to being severed in cutting injuries. But trivial injuries such as stubbing the finger when doing daily activities occasionally lead to extensor tendon tears. For both the previously mentioned open and closed categorised forms of injury, there is typically an inability to completely extend the finger end. If this is attempted, the finger end hangs down. An x-ray will rule out any fracture.

In closed injuries, the wearing of a Stack splint or even better, an individually formed Oval-8 splint, allows the ligament to grow back together in that the splint holds the finger in a lightly overextended position. However, the splint must be worn continuously for at least 8 weeks and even taking it off for a quick shower risks success of the therapy.

In open extensor tendon injuries, immediate surgical intervention is obligatory. The severed tendon is sutured and the finger splinted accordingly and immobilized for 6 weeks then appropriate early functional aftercare is carried out. The fixing of the joint with wires is only necessary under exceptional conditions.

If an extensor tendon injury is not treated, or not successful, the result is usually the so-called swan-neck deformity.


More on the various types of tendon injuries at
Hand Surgery at a Glance