In vivo flexor tendon forces generated during different rehabilitation exercises

J Hand Surg Eur Vol. 2015 Sep;40(7):705-10. doi: 10.1177/1753193415591491. Epub 2015 Jun 26.


We measured in vivo forces in the flexor digitorum profundus and the flexor digitorum superficialis tendons during commonly used rehabilitation manoeuvres after flexor tendon repair by placing a buckle force transducer on the tendons of the index finger in the carpal canal during open carpal tunnel release of 12 patients. We compared peak forces for each manoeuvre with the reported strength of a flexor tendon repair. Median flexor digitorum profundus force (24 N) during isolated flexor digitorum profundus flexion and median flexor digitorum superficialis force (13 N) during isolated flexor digitorum superficialis flexion were significantly higher than during the other manoeuvres. Significantly higher median forces were observed in the flexor digitorum superficialis with the wrist at 30° flexion (6 N) compared with the neutral wrist position (5 N). Median flexor digitorum profundus forces were significantly higher during active finger flexion (6 N) compared with place and hold (3 N). Place and hold and active finger flexion with the wrist in the neutral position or tenodesis generated the lowest forces; isolated flexion of these tendons generated higher forces along the flexor tendons.

Level of evidence: III (controlled trial without randomization).

Keywords: Flexor tendon; force; in vivo; rehabilitation; repair.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Period
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Tendon Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Tendons / physiology*
  • Transducers