I just had surgery to repair a torn tendon on the palm side of my good hand. My job requires use of a computer keyboard so I'll be typing with one hand for awhile. How long will it take to get back to full speed ahead with this type of injury?
Tendon ruptures can take quite a while to heal. The major concern following tendon repair surgery is re-rupture of the healing tendon. At the moment surgery is completed, the only thing holding the damaged tendon together is the sutures. It takes time for the tendon to heal across the tear. There's always been a fear that too much movement too soon would tear the newly forming tissue.
On the other hand, without some movement, scar tissue forms. Adhesions within and around the tendon create loss of motion and stiff joints. The tendon stops gliding smoothly. The end result can be joint contractures -- joints that can't move beyond a certain point in the range.
Current post-operative and rehab programs for flexor tendon repairs involves some motion to keep the tendon fibers gliding smoothly along with splinting to protect the healing rupture site.
Depending on the type of rehab program (early active motion versus a more passive motion program) you will be in, you can expect recovery to take anywhere from two to four months. Hand therapy supervised by a specially trained physical or occupational therapist usually takes 12 to 16 weeks.
You can ask the therapist to gear the program toward recovery in order to be prepared for the tasks required by your job. If the type of surgery allows for early movement, you can expect a faster recovery time with fewer problems.
Thomas E. Trumble, MD, et al. Zone-II Flexor Tendon Repair: A Randomized Prospective Trial of Active Place-and-Hold Therapy Compared with Passive Motion Therapy. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. June 2010. Vol. 92-A. No. 6. Pp. 1381-1389.
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