Tendons are cord-like extensions that connect muscles to bones. Extensor tendons are thin tendons located on the back of the hand, just under the skin. These particular tendons allow you to straighten your fingers and thumb and can be injured by a simple cut or jammed finger. These injuries can cause the tendons to rip from their attachment to the bone, making it hard to straighten your fingers or thumb as you usually do.
Here are two common conditions that result from an injured extensor tendon:
Hand surgeon David J. Bozentka, MD answers your questions about tendon injuries.
What is a tendon?
A tendon is a cord-like structure that attaches a muscle to a bone. The muscles that allow you to bend and straighten your fingers start in the forearm, and the tendons attach the muscles to your fingers and wrist. The tendons on the palm side of the hand that bend the fingers and wrist are called flexor tendons. The tendons on the back side of the hand and wrist are termed extensor tendons.
How do I know that I have a tendon injury?
Difficulty in fully bending or straightening your finger or wrist after an injury may be related to damage to a tendon. Lacerations (cuts) to the hand, wrist or forearm are some of the more common reasons you can injure a tendon. In addition, an injury without an open wound can cause a tendon to pull away from a bone called an avulsion injury. A Jersey Finger is a term used for a flexor tendon avulsion injury most commonly occurring in the ring finger. A player that grabs another player’s jersey that is pulled away can avulse a flexor tendon, causing inability to bend the tip joint of the finger. Alternatively, a Mallet Finger involves an avulsion injury of the extensor tendon leading to a droop of the tip joint of the involved digit.
from the Cleveland Clinic
Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. But it doesn’t always tell you if you need medical treatment. So when pain develops in your hand, wrist or elbow, how do you know whether to treat it at home or see a doctor?
Orthopedic surgeon William Seitz, Jr., MD, who specializes in upper extremity problems, says if something is seriously wrong, you’ll know it.
A wrist fracture, for instance, will cause pain you can’t ignore. “When the pain is so bad you can’t move past it, call your doctor or head to the emergency department,” he says. If you don’t have that level of pain, then listen to your body. Take a moment to consider why you might be feeling pain and what it can tell you.
Olecranon bursitis is a condition in which painful swelling develops at the back of the elbow. Here are signs that you may have this condition:
- Swollen elbow (sometimes looking like a golf ball at the tip)
- Warmth around the elbow
- Draining pus
Most times, you feel no pain with olecranon bursitis. The swelling can either be gradual or happen at once. Sometimes, it can be painful if the bursa is infected.
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis in which the lining of the joint gets inflamed and swollen, causing the joint to become loose or crooked. Psoriatic arthritis is not the same as psoriasis, which is a skin condition that causes skin to become dry, red, and flaky on any part of the body. However, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, up to 30% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, so there is a link between the two.
Psoriatic arthritis, which is common in the hands, may cause your bones to lose their shape due to the smooth ends of the bones wearing out. This condition affects men and women equally. Some symptoms may include:
- Red and swollen joints
- Joints that sometimes feel warm
- Decreased joint motion and stiff-feeling joints
- Pitting, ridging or crumbling fingernails
- Deformed end of finger