Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ


I am self-employed as a roofer for new housing projects. Two months ago, I sliced a tendon in my thumb. It hasn't healed so now I'm having surgery. The surgeon will transfer an extra tendon from one side of my thumb to the other. How much longer am I going to be off work?


You'll want to check with your hand surgeon about a timeline from surgery to rehab to full recovery and return to work. Tendon transfers are usually done as an outpatient. This means you'll likely be in and out of surgery and home on the same day.

Patients are usually placed in a splint that includes the thumb after surgery. The surgeon wants your hand and thumb in a position that will put just the right amount of tension on the tendon. This is important for tendon healing during the first three weeks.

It will be very important to follow your surgeon's instructions carefully. A rehab program will begin according to the surgeon's plan. A hand therapist will focus on helping you regain strength and motion.

Things should go smoothly for you. Scarring called fibrosis can affect tendon gliding and sliding. The amount of tendon motion is called the excursion rate. With a good result, your excursion rate will be close to normal.

This motion is important since you will be using your hands for gripping and pulling while roofing. Tendon healing and rehab take time. You can expect to be off work for at least 12 weeks, but again, check with your surgeon for his or her expected return to work date. Adrián Bullón, MD, et al. Reconstruction After Chronic Extensor Pollicis Longus Ruptures. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. September 2007. Vol. 462. Pp. 93-98.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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