Jersey finger is a tear of one of the flexor tendons in a finger. It is common in contact sports and can cause the tendon to bunch at the base of the finger.
Jersey finger symptoms
- Pain in the fingertip.
- Inability to bend the finger normally, although it can still be forced into a bent position.
- Tenderness on the pad of the finger.
- Swelling and bruising may develop later in the fingertip.
- It may be possible to feel the tendon as a bunched up soft mass on the palm side of the hand.
What is Jersey finger?
There are four tendons of the Flexor Digitorum Profundus muscle which pass into each of the fingers.
Jersey fingers most commonly occur in contact sports such as Rugby and American Football. It is called a Jersey Finger because of the way it often occurs. When gripping an opponents shirt, with the fingers bent, the opponent wrestles away, causing a forced extension (straightening) of the fingers. The injury occurs at the tip of the finger where the tendon meets the bone on the distal phalange. The ruptured tendon may retract to the base of the finger or the hand.
- Rest the finger.
- Apply ice or cold therapy to reduce pain and inflammation.
- If it cannot be moved by the patient and is stuck in an extended position, seek medical attention.
- X-rays or ultrasound scans may be performed to confirm the injury and to check there is not an avulsion fracture.
Treatment for a jersey finger is with surgery. The tendon must be reattached to the distal phalange. The rehabilitation of the condition is important as flexor tendons often become very stiff if not treated properly.
Early movement after surgery is important to avoid stiffness. Strengthening exercises using items such as putty and hand therapy balls may be recommended.