Tendon Repair Surgery

Tendon Repair Surgery

Tendon repair is a surgical procedure done to treat a torn or damaged tendon. Tendons are soft, band-like tissues that connect muscles to bone. When the muscles contract, the tendons pull on certain bones and cause the joints to move.

When tendon damage occurs, movement may be very limited. The damaged area may feel weak or painful. Tendon repair surgery may be helpful for people who have tendon injuries that are making it hard for them to move a joint or are very painful.

Common reasons for tendon repair surgery

Tendon repair is done to bring back regular movement to a joint. Tendon injury may happen anywhere in the body where there are tendons. The joints that are usually affected by tendon injuries are the shoulders, elbows, ankles, knees and fingers.

A tendon injury may result from a cut that goes past the skin and through the tendon. A tendon injury is also common from contact sports injuries like football, wrestling and rugby.

According to research, “jersey finger” is one of the most common sports injuries affecting the tendons. It may occur when one player grabs the jersey of another player and gets their finger caught on the jersey. When the other player moves, the finger is pulled, and in turn, the tendon is pulled off the bone.

Tendon damage can also occur in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis can involve the tendons, causing them to tear.

How is tendon repair done?

Generally, during tendon repair, a doctor will:

  • make a little incision in the skin over the damaged tendon
  • stitch the torn ends of the tendon together
  • check nearby tissues to make sure no other injuries have occurred such as injury to the blood vessels or nerves
  • close the incision
  • cover the area with sterile bandages
  • immobilize the joint so as to allow the tendon to heal

If there aren’t enough healthy tendons to reconnect, the doctor may perform a tendon graft using a piece of tendon from another part of the body. It may be from the foot or toe. Occasionally, a tendon transfer may be useful in restoring function.

Anaesthesia is used during tendon repair to prevent the patient from feeling pain during the surgery. The types of anaesthesia are:

  • Local anesthesia. The area where the surgery is to be done is numbed and pain-free.
  • Regional anesthesia. The surrounding area and the area where the surgery is to be done are numbed and pain-free.
  • General anaesthesia. The patient is unconscious and unable to feel pain.
  • Potential risks of having a tendon repair surgery

Risks associated with tendon repair include:

  • scar tissue, which may form and prevent the joints from moving well
  • some loss of joint use
  • stiffness of the joint
  • re-tearing of the tendon

Risks for anaesthesia include reactions to medication like difficulty breathing, rash or itching. Risks for surgery in general are bleeding and infection.

Recovery and care after surgery

Tendon repairs are normally done on an outpatient basis. This means the patient can go home after the surgical procedure. If the patient does stay in the hospital, it’s usually for a short period of time.

Healing can take up to twelve weeks. The injured tendon may need to be supported with a splint to take tension off of the repaired tendon.

Physical therapy is usually necessary to return movement in a safe manner. Expect movement to return gradually, with some stiffness.

You may need treatment after the surgery to reduce scar tissue. Too much scar tissue can make it hard to move the damaged tendon.

Tendon repair surgery outlook

Tendon repair surgery can be very successful if they’re done along with correct physical therapy. As a general rule, the sooner tendon repair surgery is done after an injury, the easier the surgery and recovery.

In certain cases, long-term complications may develop. Stiffness may be long-lasting. Some tendon injuries like injuries to the flexor tendon in the arm can be very difficult to repair.

Before the surgical procedure, discuss possible outcomes with your doctor so that you have a realistic view of your individual outlook.


DisclaimerThe information provided herein is for the patient's general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by

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