Tendon Repair

A tendon repair procedure is performed to restore functional movement for individuals who experience difficulty performing various activities due to damaged or torn tendons. Tendons are the strong, flexible tissues connecting your muscles to your bones, and they are essential for all kinds of movements.

Tendons facilitate activities from simple motions like putting on clothes to more complex athletic endeavors like shooting a basketball. Whether addressing flexor tendons, which contract to move bones, or extensor tendons, which stretch for outward movements, this procedure is key to returning patients to their active, pain-free lives.

Resurgens Orthopaedics physicians specialize in performing tendon repair procedures, and we encourage you to schedule an appointment online if you're suffering from tendon pain or discomfort preventing you from performing daily activities.

What Is a Tendon Repair Procedure?

Tendon repair surgery is a specialized procedure designed to mend damaged or torn tendons, the fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bones. In the U.S., over 300,000 individuals annually undergo this surgery, reflecting how important and common this procedure is.

A tendon repair procedure is often an outpatient procedure with the ultimate goal of restoring mobility and alleviating pain caused by a torn tendon, which can significantly impair movement and strength in the affected area. A torn tendon, whether partially or completely torn, can cause severe discomfort and makes simple tasks difficult to complete. When a tendon is torn, there can also be damage to the surrounding nerves, blood vessels, or muscles which a physician can diagnose and fix while examining the severity of the tear.

The specifics of tendon repair vary, depending on the injury's location and severity. Generally, the process involves reattaching the torn tendon and removing any damaged tissue. At Resurgens Orthopaedics, we strive to keep our procedures as minimally invasive as possible; however, some severe cases might require open surgery. The procedural approach is determined in consultation with a physician, tailored to each patient's unique injury and needs, ensuring the best possible outcome and recovery.

Why is a Tendon Repair Procedure Performed?

Tendon tears can occur in various parts of the body, with the shoulders, elbows, ankles, knees, and fingers being the most commonly affected areas. Tendons can tear or become weak due to a variety of reasons. Repetitive motions, often performed in certain jobs, sports, or daily activities, increase the risk of tendon injury due to gradual wear and tear.

Traumatic injuries, such as a sudden impact, abrupt joint movements, or deep lacerations, can also cause tendon tears. "Jersey finger" is a common football-related injury where a finger's flexor tendon is pulled off the bone when a finger is suddenly and forcefully yanked.

Age-related factors also play a role, as tendons lose elasticity as people age, making them more prone to rupture. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory chronic autoimmune disease that often affects tendons. Though rheumatoid arthritis can affect people of any age, it is most common in older individuals and is another common cause of torn tendons. Because of the varied reasons why tendon repair procedures are performed, Resurgens' physicians tailor their methods across a wide range of age groups and lifestyles.

How To Prepare for a Tendon Repair Procedure

Preparing for a tendon repair procedure involves several crucial steps to ensure a safe and successful procedure and a smooth recovery. Your physician will tell you how to prepare in detail, but here are some key steps to remember before a tendon repair procedure:

  • Inform Your Physician: Tell your physician all the medications, herbs, and supplements you are taking.

  • Manage Medications: Follow your physician's advice on stopping blood thinners and other specific medicines.

  • Undergo Medical Evaluation: Undergo a thorough medical check-up, including physical exams, blood tests, and possibly imaging tests.

  • Stop Smoking: Cease tobacco use, as it can hinder the healing process.

  • Pause Alcohol Consumption: Stop any habitual drinking before your procedure, and discuss any drinking habits with your physician.

  • Disclose Illnesses: Notify your physician about any recent illnesses like colds, flu, or herpes outbreaks.

  • Fast: Abstain from eating or drinking before the surgery

  • Prepare Your Home: Arrange your living space for a comfortable post-surgery recovery.

  • Maintain Personal Hygiene: Bathe or shower before the surgery to minimize infection risks.

  • Wear Appropriate Clothing: Wear loose, comfortable clothing on the day of the procedure.

  • Arrange Transportation: Ensure you have a ride home post-procedure, as you will likely be unable to drive.

What Happens During a Tendon Repair Procedure?

A tendon repair is a delicate (typically outpatient) procedure where a physician carefully mends a damaged or torn tendon using precision surgical instruments. Here's what typically happens during this process:

  • Anesthesia Administration: Depending on the case, local, regional, or general anesthesia is used to ensure the patient does not feel pain.

  • Incision: The physician makes one or more small incisions over the injured tendon area.

  • Sewing Tendon Ends: The torn ends of the tendon are carefully sewn together.

  • Checking Surrounding Tissue: The physician examines the area for any potential blood vessel or nerve damage.

  • Closure of Incision: The incisions are then closed.

  • Wound Covering and Protection: After the procedure, the wound is covered with sterile medical dressings.

  • Splinting to Reduce Tension: Essential for a successful recovery, a splint or similar dressing is applied to minimize tension on the healing tendon.

In cases where the tendon is too short or severely damaged, the physician may perform a tendon graft or transfer, using a piece of tendon from another part of the patient's body to complete the tendon repair.

Are There Risks Associated With Tendon Repair?

While tendon repair procedures are generally successful, they carry certain risks and potential complications like any medical procedure. Here's a breakdown of the possible side effects and complications associated with a tendon repair procedure:

  • Medication Reactions: Some patients may experience adverse reactions to medications, including anesthesia, which can manifest as breathing difficulties, rashes, or itching.

  • Bleeding: There is a risk of bleeding during and after the procedure.

  • Infection: As with any procedure, there is a potential risk of infection at the incision site.

  • Scar Tissue Formation: Scar tissue may develop, potentially hindering joint movement.

  • Pain: Postoperative pain is a common occurrence and varies in intensity.

  • Partial Loss of Function: The affected joint may become stiff, and there may be some loss of joint function.

  • Possibility of Re-Tear: There is a risk that the tendon could re-tear during the recovery process or afterwards.

Post-Procedure Tendon Repair Recovery

Recovery from a tendon repair procedure involves a carefully planned and monitored process to ensure optimal healing and the return of pain-free movement. Recovery can last 6 to 12 weeks, during which the affected area may be immobilized using a cast or splint. This is followed by a gradual re-introduction of movement, often aided by physical therapy. Patients are guided through exercises designed to promote tendon healing while minimizing scar tissue, which is crucial for maintaining flexibility and function.

At Resurgens Orthopaedics, we aim to help patients regain their mobility and return to their daily activities safely and effectively. Most tendon repair procedures are outpatient, meaning patients can return home shortly after the procedure. Adherence to the prescribed rehabilitation and therapy plan is key to a successful recovery, and the experienced team at Resurgens is committed to helping patients every step of the way, assuring a positive outcome and restoring pain-free movement.

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