Restoring Wrist and Finger Movement After Tenolysis

Tenolysis is a surgical procedure performed on the fingers or wrist after a crush injury to the hand from a force or pressure (bleeding, bruising, laceration or fracture) or after surgical repair of a ruptured tendon. After injury or surgery, a normally occurring inflammatory response results in the formation of scar tissue. This scar tissue binds to the tendon or sheath and interferes with the tendon’s normal sliding movement.

When tendons do not slide smoothly, the individual loses active range of motion (ROM) and the precision needed to perform many fine finger movements. Sometimes, the affected finger can be moved with assistance from the other hand (passive ROM), but movement on its own (active ROM) will be limited. During tenolysis, a surgeon removes the scar tissue, called an adhesion, that prevents a tendon from gliding smoothly within its sheath.

After tenolysis, exercise guided by a therapist experienced in hand rehabilitation is essential. Gentle active and passive ROM exercises are started the day after surgery. Initial exercises focus on restoring the gliding motion of the tendon. Later, strengthening exercises are added. Physical therapy and a home exercise program may continue for 12 weeks or more to help

  • control postoperative swelling
  • improve gliding motion
  • strengthen the affected finger
  • help to restore active ROM, so that you can return to your normal activities

If you are considering tenolysis surgery, we can work with your surgeon before and after the operation to carefully design a rehabilitation program for you. A program that restores and strengthens the tendons of your wrist and finger will help reduce pain while keeping your joints flexible and strong.