Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ

Question:

What in the world is a "Jersey finger"? Our son is a football player away from home for the first time. He emailed us to tell us he has a Jersey finger and not to worry.

Answer:

Jersey finger refers to an injury to the tip of a finger (usually the ring finger). It occurs when a tackler grabs another player by the shirt (jersey). The fingers are bent holding onto the material. The other player tries to pull away. The force of the movement away from the bent fingers causes the tip of one (or more) finger(s) to hyperextend.

The ring finger is affected most often. In fact the ring finger is affected in 75 percent of the patients with Jersey finger. There are probably many reasons why this happens. The biggest factor is that the ring finger has the least amount of motion on its own. As you've probably noticed yourself, it's much harder to flex and extend that finger by itself normally. It's easier for its grip to get ripped away as the other player pulls in the opposite direction.

If the injury isn't too severe, then splinting is the main treatment. If the tendon is pulled completely away and pulls a piece of bone with it, then surgery may be needed. You may want to contact the team athletic trainer and find out more about the extent of the injury before deciding whether or not to request an orthopedic consult.

Harrison G. Tuttle, MD, et al. Tendon Avulsion Injuries of the Distal Phalanx. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. April 2006. No. 445. Pp. 157-168.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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