Jersey Finger

Jersey Finger is a common injury involving the fingers. It occurs in contact sports when a player tries to grab the jersey of an opponent and injures the finger, hence the name Jersey Finger.

Jersey Finger is the avulsion of the FDP (Flexor Digitorum Profundus) which is the tendon that inserts at the base of the distal phalanx or end of the finger.

The ring finger is involved in a great percentage of these cases due to the anatomy of our fist. In most people the ring finger tip is 5 mm more prominent that the other digits when the hand is closed, which causes more exposure of the fingertip during a strong grasp.

Anatomy of a Jersey Finger Injury

The area injured is known as flexor tendon zone 1 which involves the tip of the fingers. This zone is prone to avulsions and lacerations injuries to the tendons.

Image of finger anatomy for jersey finger with arrow and label showing FDP tear and distal phalanx

The Jersey Finger is classified from type I to type V based on the level of tendon retraction in the hand and the presentation of fracture on the distal phalanx (fingertip). The treatment of the injury is based on the level of tendon retraction/classification level.

Symptoms of Jersey Finger

Most hand injuries have swelling and pain that accompany them. With Jersey Finger the pain is located on the distal area of the finger and the patient is unable to bend the tip of the finger actively. The finger involved will have rigidity when trying to make a fist.

Test and Diagnosis For Jersey Finger

X-Rays are needed to determine if a fracture has occurred with the injury.

The MD will block the distal phalanx to promote active range of the FDP, if the patient is unable to bend their fingertip this is a positive sign that the tendon is ruptured.

Palpation on the tendon sheath will indicate the level of retraction of the tendon on the hand.

Treatments for Jersey Finger

The treatment of choice is usually surgical. Tendon repairs and fracture fixations are a must.

If the Jersey Finger is left untreated it will have functional consequences on the whole hand. It can affect the grip strength and the capacity to handle objects.

Initially rest and ice are suggested to help reduce inflammation and decrease pain but MD consultation should shortly follow the injury. A delay in care can reduce the success rate for full recovery following surgery.

Due to the crucial elements in the hand function a hand specialist should be the first choice when looking for treatment. These doctors will perform the tendon repair and send you to the appropriate certified hand therapist for proper guidance in rehabilitative services.  

Patient is placed on a splint with wrist and fingers on some degree of flexion and progressively his range will increase according to the healing process.

Jersey Finger will take around 3-4 months of rehab but the maximum improvement can take 6-12 months.

Related Links:

If your have a hand or finger injury, the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute can help. To schedule an appointment, call (904)JOI-2000, schedule online, or click below. To See a JOI Certified Hand Therapist in 1 of our 12 locations, call (904)858-7045.

By Diana Cratem OT/CHT



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