What Is Tendon Repair?
Tendons are bands of collagen that connect muscles to bones. Some of the most serious tendon conditions are tears and ruptures, which occur when the tendon either tears partially or completely separates from the bone to which it is anchored. Tendon repair entails either stitching the tear or reattaching a ruptured tendon to the bone.
Common Reasons for Tendon Repair
Tendons can be injured by overuse and age-related degeneration, or by an acute injury. Some tendons are more prone to tears and ruptures than others. Specific tendons that commonly tear include:
Candidates for Tendon Repair
Candidates for tendon repair surgery include those who have ruptured a tendon and those who have tried more conservative treatment measures without success. Some of these may include:
Tendon repair can be performed as an open surgery, with a comparatively large incision, or arthroscopically, with small incisions, small tools and a flexible camera called an arthroscope attached to a video monitor.
Tendon repair usually involves either fixing a tear with stitches or sutures or reattaching a tendon to a bone. In the latter case, holes are drilled in the bone and the tendon is affixed by threading sutures through the holes.
Procedures will vary based on the location and the extent of the injury. Some of the more common procedures include:
- Biceps tenodesis/tenotomy
- Biceps, triceps and pectoralis repair
- Rotator cuff repair
- Achilles tendon repair
Recovery time will vary based on the severity of the injury and its location. Patients may recover slightly faster from arthroscopic surgery than open surgery because it is a less invasive technique. The affected area may need to be immobilized or protected for a number of weeks after the surgery.
There will be pain after most surgeries, which can be controlled with anti-inflammatories and painkillers. Physical therapy may be necessary or useful for regaining strength in the muscles around the injury and regaining range of motion. Healing usually takes a few weeks to several months.
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