Every year in the United States, patients across the country suffer 33 million musculoskeletal injuries. These can be extremely painful and have a huge impact on your ability to work and carry out basic daily tasks.
But did you know that the majority of these injuries involve tendons? In fact, 50% of musculoskeletal injuries involve tendon or ligament damage. This article will mostly discuss tendon related problems of the hand.
There are various ways that you can suffer a finger tendon injury. Thankfully, it is also possible to protect the tendons in your hands in a few simple ways.
Want to know more about how to look after your hand’s tendons and avoid injuring them? Then you’re in the right place! Read on to find out everything you need to know about your hands’ tendons and what you can do to look after them.
What Do the Tendons in Your Hand Do?
You have countless tendons throughout your body. These play a vital role by connecting your muscles to your bone, which allows you to control the way your body moves.
There are two main groups of tendons within your hands. We divide them into extensor and flexor tendons of the hand and wrist.
The first set (extensor tendons) runs along your forearm and up to the tips of your fingers and thumb. These cross the back of your hand and help you to straighten your wrist, fingers, and thumb when you want to. They are neatly organized into 6 major compartments. Placing tendons in compartments allows them to move in a certain manner, but can also become a problem if the tendons outgrow the size of the compartment due to swelling.
The other set (flexor tendons) runs across the palm of your hand up to the ends of your fingers and thumb. These tendons allow you to bend and curl your fingers forwards. There is a total of nine flexor tendons to the fingers (each finger has two, and the thumb only has one) and two wrist flexor tendons.
Together these tendons help you perform a huge range of daily tasks, such as holding a cup of coffee or typing on your phone. Without them, we would be in big trouble! This means that a finger injury can have a huge effect on your life.
Specific Types of Tendon Injuries that may require surgery
Some of the common tendon injuries include:
- Mallet finger
- Jersey finger (this is a common ring or little finger tendon injury)
- Boutonniere deformity and Swan Neck Deformities
- Tendon Lacerations
- Spontaneous tendon ruptures
How Can a Finger Tendon Injury Affect You?
Tendon finger injuries are an extremely common type of hand injury in the United States. Unfortunately, though, they can have a huge impact on your day-to-day life.
Damaging the tendons in your hand significantly reduces the mobility you have in that hand. Overusing your hand with a tendon injury will cause more damage, which may require extensive surgery to recover from.
Because of this, you may find daily tasks, such as keeping your home tidy or shopping for groceries, more difficult. If you are working, you may also have to take time off work to recover from your injury.
As we’ve already seen, tendon injuries are often caused by overuse or sudden accidents. While you cannot always prevent an accident from happening, there are plenty of things you can do to protect your tendons as much as possible.
Let’s take a look at five of the best ways to avoid tendon injuries at home, at work, and on the sports field.
1. Warm Up Your Tendons Before Using Them
Before you perform any sort of strenuous activity with your hands (or any other part of your body for that matter!) it is important to warm it up.
Warming up your body involves increasing your heart rate and improving blood flow to your individual muscle. This means that they get enough oxygen to perform their tasks without seizing up.
This is a great way to warm up your hands before any activity:
- Start by rubbing your hands together to improve blood flow throughout them.
- Press your palms together flat so that your fingers line up with one another. Then squeeze your hands together and fan your fingers out while you squeeze. You should repeat this five times.
- Next, separate your hands and hook your fingers together. This means that the fingers of one hand will be hooked between the fingers and palm of the opposite hand. Once they are hooked together, pull your hands in opposite directions.
- Separate your hands once more and fan out your fingers. Then tap and press each fingertip against your thumb and release it again. This can take a little coordination so on quality movement rather than speed.
- Finally, press the palms of your hands together again and maintain this pressure for twenty seconds. Then shake your hands out with your fingers relaxed.
Warming up the tendons in your hands means they will be strong, flexible, and ready to work. Because of this, they will be able to take more strain than they would pre-warm up so they are much less likely to rip or tear.
If you have time, make sure you also warm down after using your hands a lot. This will rest your tendons properly and prevent future injuries.
2. Take Regular Breaks from Strenuous Activity
Overusing your tendons can do a lot of damage to them but sometimes this is unavoidable. A lot of professions require you to use your hands for long periods of time every day.
This can seriously weaken the tendons in your hands, meaning they are more at risk of serious injuries, such as tearing or snapping. For example, if a weak tendon receives a blunt blow it is much more likely to snap than a strong one.
Taking regular breaks from any activities that strain your tendons is important. This gives them time to rest and repair so that they don’t become over-worked and weak.
If you work in a hazardous environment, such as on a construction site, it is also extremely important for you to take rest breaks from your work. These allow you to come back to work refreshed and refocused. This means you are much less likely to make mistakes that could harm you, your hands, or your colleagues.
3. Perform Tendon-Strengthening Exercises
As well as taking breaks to rest your hands, there are plenty of tendon-strengthening exercises you can do. As you’ve probably realized, these strengthen the tendons in your hands. This means if you are involved in an accident, your tendons are less likely to suffer a serious injury.
Some simple tendon-strengthening exercises you can do include:
- Finger bends
- Passive wrist stretches
- Clenched wrist bends
- Side to side wrist bends
- Hand turns
- Hand clenches
- Finger curls
- Bent finger stretches
- Resistance stretches
- Extensor exercises
These are all exercises that you can perform at home or at work without any specific equipment. Some of them do require a flat surface for resistance but you can do them at your desk or kitchen table! You may also want to invest in a resistance ball to perform hand squeezes.
It is a good idea to try out all of the stretches in this list as each one targets a different area of your hand. That way you will achieve all-over strengthening. Performing these stretches at least once every day will ensure they have maximum impact!
4. Always Use Health and Safety Equipment Provided
Strengthening the tendons in your hand is one thing but this won’t stop you from being involved in an accident. Because of this, it is important to always follow health and safety guidelines in any environment that you use your hands.
For example, if you work in construction, make sure you wear proper gloves for performing certain activities. These provide an extra layer of protection for your hands if anything does go wrong.
Whenever you are, keep an eye out for warnings or signs containing health and safety information. This will keep you informed of any immediate dangers nearby and the best ways to avoid them.
After all, avoiding an accident altogether is the best way to keep your hands safe!
5. Let Your Hands Recover from Minor Injuries
If you do suffer from a tendon injury it is extremely important that you give your hands time to recover properly. This is the case no matter how minor the injury may seem.
The tendons in your hands need plenty of time to rest in order for them to repair. This means they will remain weak for a while after an injury. Because of this, overusing them too soon after an accident could result in a much more serious injury.
While recovering from a tendon injury, you should rest your hands as much as possible and avoid any activities that cause pain. You may also want to ask your doctor for some pain relief.
Your doctor will talk you through some exercises to help improve motion and prevent stiffness. You should perform these carefully and avoid overworking the damaged area.
This can be a frustrating time but taking baby steps will ensure you don’t do further damage.
Finger Tendon Injury Symptoms and What to Do Next
If you do start to experience symptoms of tendonitis or other tendon injuries, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Tendon injuries are the easiest to treat early on. Getting help as soon as possible will ensure that you don’t do further damage and that you recover quickly.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the symptoms of tendon injuries.
There are many different types of tendon injuries that you can suffer from and each of these has slightly different symptoms. You should seek medical help for a tendon injury if you experience any of the following symptoms in your hands:
- A snap or popping feeling when you move your hand.
- Loss of motion at a joint
- Difficulty using or moving your hand or fingers as usual.
- A noticeable deformity and/or sudden bruising.
- Heat or redness around the injury site.
- Tenderness when anyone touches the affected area.
- Pain, especially when moving your hand.
Of course, if you suffer a traumatic injury to your hand this can also damage the tendons in it. In that case, you should seek medical attention immediately for that injury.
In order to assess the damage to your hand, a doctor may request an MRI or ultrasound. Most of the time it is not necessary and simple history, physical exam, and xrays can help to make a diagnosis. The additional imaging allows a hand surgeon to see what is happening with the tendons inside your hand in much more detail.
Treating and Recovering from Tendon Injuries
Treatment for tendon injuries can vary greatly depending on the amount of damage that has been done. Minor injuries can be treated using ice, elevation, and rest.
If you suffer from severe tendonitis a doctor may also prescribe the following:
- Steroid injections to directly reduce localized swelling, and increase motion
- Shockwave therapy.
- Platelet-rich plasma injections or other regenerative medicine options.
More serious damage, such as torn or ruptured tendons, Mallet fingers, Jersey Fingers, Boutonierre defirmities, may require corrective surgery or repair of the damage. Time is critical in tendon injuries, and outcome is related to that.
Get a Helping Hand Today
Your tendons play a vital role in day-to-day life. So suffering a finger tendon injury can be a nightmare to deal with.
Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to avoid this. Keeping these top tips in mind will ensure your tendons stay safe and healthy throughout your life.
If you are concerned about a tendon injury, or another hand injury, it is important to get this checked out and treated as soon as possible. Get in touch to speak to a member of our specialist team today. We’re here to help!