Extensor Tendon Lacerations

What Are Extensor Tendon Lacerations?

The extensor tendons lie on the back side of the hand and fingers.  They attach muscles in the forearm to the finger bones and have the important job of extending or straightening the fingers. Extensor tendon lacerations can be caused by cuts or with crushing type injuries.  When one or more of the tendons are injured, patients may experience the following symptoms:

  • Inability to extend the fingers
  • Pain
  • Weakness

How Are Extensor Tendons Lacerations Diagnosed?

Any injury or cut to the hand/wrist that results in the inability to move the finger should be evaluated.  Most times, a thorough history and physical examination can diagnose these injuries.  X-rays are often used to evaluate bone injuries or foreign bodies in the cut.  MRI or Ultrasound studies can be used to confirm diagnoses or in the case of partial injuries.

How Are Extensor Tendon Lacerations Treated?

Partial tendon tears that do limit finger and hand function may be treated non-surgically—a splint is used to immobilize the fingers, hand, wrist, and arm so the tendons can heal.

Complete tendon injuries often times need to be surgically repaired. An extensor tendon repair is a procedure that uses special sutures and suturing techniques to re-attach the ends of the torn tendons. The procedure is usually done on an outpatient basis. Recovery time depends on the severity of the injury.