Flexor Digitorum Profundus Rupture (Jersey Finger)

Flexor digitorum profundus rupture, commonly called jersey finger, is a condition where a person is unable to bend his or her own finger, without assistance. This is caused by injury to the tendon that bends the last joint of the finger. The tendon tears (ruptures), and sometimes pulls a piece of bone off with it. This is called an avulsion fracture. The injury is called jersey finger, because it often occurs when a player grabs another player's jersey or pants.

SYMPTOMS

  • A "pop" or rip felt in the finger, at the time of injury.

  • Pain when moving the finger.

  • Inability to bend the finger, without assistance.

  • Full passive motion of the finger (can be bent with help).

  • Tenderness, swelling, and warmth of the injured finger.

  • Bruising after 48 hours.

  • Sometimes, a lump felt in the palm of the hand.

CAUSES

The most common cause is forced straightening (extension) of a bent (flexed) finger. The force on the tendon is greater than it can withstand, causing it to rupture. Jersey finger is less commonly the result of a cut (laceration).

RISK INCREASES WITH:

  • Sports that involve grasping an object, such as a jersey (rugby, football (during tackling), and ice hockey when gloves are removed and a player grabs another player's jersey).

  • Poor hand strength and flexibility.

  • Previous finger injury.

PREVENTION

  • Warm up and stretch properly before activity.

  • Maintain physical fitness:

  • Hand and finger flexibility.

  • Muscle strength and endurance.

  • Taping, splinting, or protective strapping may be advised before activity.

  • Learn and use proper tackling technique.

PROGNOSIS

Jersey finger often requires surgery, followed by a 3 month recovery.

RELATED COMPLICATIONS

  • Permanent deformity (inability to bend finger).

  • Stiffness of finger.

  • If untreated, unstable last joint.

  • Poor finger function.

  • Repeated rupture of the tendon.

  • Pain or weakness with gripping.

  • Prolonged disability.

  • Arthritis of the finger, especially if associated with a fracture.

  • Risks of surgery: infection, injury to nerves (numbness, weakness), bleeding, weakness, recurring tendon injury, finger stiffness.

TREATMENT

Jersey finger usually requires surgery. Before surgery, treatment involves restraint and ice and medicine, to reduce pain and inflammation. Surgery will involve reattaching the tendon to the bone. After surgery, the hand is restrained for protection during the healing process. Stretching and strengthening exercises will be needed, for you to regain strength and a full range of motion. Exercises may be completed at home or with a therapist.

MEDICATION

  • If pain medicine is needed, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (aspirin and ibuprofen), or other minor pain relievers (acetaminophen), are often advised.

  • Do not take pain medicine for 7 days before surgery.

  • Prescription pain relievers may be given. Use only as directed and only as much as you need.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Pain increases, despite treatment.

  • Any of the following occur after surgery:

  • You experience pain, numbness, or coldness in the finger.

  • Blue, gray, or dark color appears in the fingernails.

  • You develop signs of infection: fever, increased pain, swelling, redness, drainage of fluids, or bleeding in the affected area.

  • New, unexplained symptoms develop. (Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.)