Restoring controlled movement with tendon transfer surgery

A tendon transfer may be recommended if you have nerve damage that affects the body’s ability to signal muscle movement, such as to the hand or foot. Tendons are fibrous tissues that connect muscle to bone and help control force of movement. Tendon rupture due to rheumatoid arthritis, or any injury, disease, or neurological condition, such as cerebral palsy or a traumatic brain injury, may impact nerve signaling and cause the tendon to stop working with the muscle.

How tendon transfer surgery works to improve movement

In order for tendon transfer surgery to be successful, you must have healthy, working tendons in other areas, and the muscle and bone in the area where the transfer takes place must also be healthy and working. In some cases, a donor tendon (from someone other than you) may be used. The idea is for the tendon that is no longer working to be replaced and reattached to the surrounding bone such that nerve signals can once again communicate and cause the tendon to do its job of tensing and causing movement and flexion.

Depending on the condition of the surrounding area, your surgeon may sew the new tendon into a different bone or a different tendon, to facilitate better signaling along nerves and muscles.

Recovering from tendon transfer surgery

Recovery from tendon transfer surgery will require a splint or cast to stabilize the area until it has had time to heal, which may take one to two months. Physical therapy exercises also help you to regain strength and mobility, and to minimize scarring (excess buildup of tissue) which could cause stiffness.

At Main Line Health we have a talented team of highly skilled orthopaedic surgeons who specialize in treatments and therapies for diseases and injuries affecting the tendons. To make an appointment with a specialist.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.