Jersey Finger (Torn Flexor Tendon of the Hand)
What is jersey finger?
Jersey finger is a tear in one of the flexor tendons in your hand. The flexor tendons allow you to flex or bend your fingers, such as making a fist. The deep part of the flexor tendon (flexor digitorum profundus) attaches to the bone near the tip of the finger. This is usually the part that tears.
Causes of Jersey finger?
Jersey finger usually occurs from grabbing an opponent’s jersey. This causes a stress to the attachment of the tendon at the finger. This can pull the tendon off the bone, can tear a small piece of bone off the finger (avulsion) or tear the tendon itself. This commonly happens in sports like football when a tackle is made. When the jersey is grabbed with closed fist and the hand is forced open the injury occurs. The most common finger injured is the ring finger because it has the least amount of strength. Sometimes a flexor tendon is injured when the palm or palmar surface of a finger is cut.
Symptoms of Jersey finger?
Symptoms can include:
- Feeling a pop or snap when the injury occurs
- Inability to flex your finger, in particular the tip of the finger at the last knuckle
- Possible lump in the palm of your hand (the torn flexor tendon may retract into your palm)
Diagnosis of Jersey finger?
Your provider will take your history and examine your finger. You will be unable to flex or bend your finger. An X-ray may be done to see if your finger is broken.
Treatment of Jersey finger
A torn flexor tendon needs to be surgically repaired. Before surgery you may be advised to:
- Wear a splint.
- Raise the hand on a pillow when you sit or lie down.
- Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables, wrapped in a cloth on the area every 3 to 4 hours, for up to 20 minutes at a time.
- Take an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen, or other medicine as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.
How long will the effects last?
Recovery after surgery may take several months, including physical therapy. If surgery is not done you may have a permanent deformity and be unable to flex or bend you injured finger.
When can I return to my sport or activity?
This depends on your surgeon after full recovery.
What can I do to prevent a jersey finger?
Jersey finger usually occurs from an injury that cannot be prevented. However, proper form in tackling and strong hands can help prevent injury.