Risks - Hand tendon repair

Common complications of tendon repair include:

  • infection
  • ruptured tendons
  • the repaired tendon sticking to nearby tissue

Infection after hand tendon repair

An infection develops after about 1 in every 20 tendon repair operations. The risk is highest if you have a wound contaminated by dirt.

Crushing injuries are also more likely to cause an infection.

Symptoms of an infection include:

  • redness and swelling in your hand
  • increasing tenderness or pain
  • a high temperature of 38C or above

Contact your GP if you think you might have an infection. Most infections can be treated with antibiotics.

Hand tendon repair failure

The repair fails and the tendon ruptures after about 1 in 20 tendon repair operations. It usually happens soon after the operation.

Ruptures often happen in people who don't rest the affected tendon. Accidental trips, falls or catching your splint can also rupture the tendon.

In some cases, you will know you've ruptured the tendon. You will feel a sudden snapping or pinging sensation in your hand. But you may not notice until you discover that you can't move your finger or fingers in the same way as before.

Contact your surgical team or hand therapist if you think your tendon has ruptured. Further surgery is usually needed to repair it.

Tendon adhesion

Tendon adhesion means the tendons have become stuck to surrounding tissue. This can cause loss of movement, which is minor in most cases. More serious cases of tendon adhesion need surgery to free the stuck tendon.

Contact your surgical team or hand therapist if you notice a reduction in your ability to move your hand.


Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

Page last reviewed: 23 March 2021
Next review due: 23 March 2024

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