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Jersey Finger

(Flexor Digitorum Profundus Avulsion; Rugby Finger; Sweater Finger)

By

Paul L. Liebert

, MD, Tomah Memorial Hospital, Tomah, WI

Last full review/revision Dec 2021| Content last modified Dec 2021
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSONAL VERSION

Jersey finger occurs when an athlete's bent finger gets caught in the material of an opposing player's shirt, and that finger is then forcibly straightened out when the opposing player suddenly pulls away. The tendon, which is being pulled in two directions at once, may separate from the bone at the tip of the finger. Sometimes a piece of bone is also torn away.

The injury occurs primarily in football, rugby, and other high-contact sports. The ring finger is injured in about 75% of cases.

Causes of Jersey Finger

Tendons that originate in the forearm control the fingers' ability to grip things. One of those tendons (flexor digitorum profundus [FDP]) flexes the fingertip (toward the palm).

In jersey finger, the tendon that attaches the FDP to bone is torn away from its point of attachment near the fingertip. A small piece of bone may break off.

Symptoms of Jersey Finger

The injured finger cannot flex at the fingertip. The other joints are not affected. The fingertip is painful when touched and may be swollen. The affected finger remains slightly more extended (bent away from the palm) than other fingers while in a resting position.

Diagnosis of Jersey Finger

  • Doctor's evaluation

  • X-ray

Doctors carefully evaluate the person's ability to flex the fingertip. They take x-rays of the finger to determine if the tendon has torn off any bone.

Treatment of Jersey Finger

  • Surgery

Surgically repairing the tendon is needed to restore the ability to flex the fingertip. Such surgery is usually best done by a hand specialist.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSONAL VERSION
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