Jersey finger

Jersey finger (also called Rugby finger or Sweater finger) describes a type of injury where there is avulsion of the flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) at the base of the distal interphalangeal joint (DIP) 1.

Most commonly affects the 4th digit as the FDP insertion into the ring finger is anatomically weaker than the middle finger 2.

It classically occurs during certain sports resulting from sudden hyperextension of actively flexed finger (e.g., grabbing opponent's jersey during rugby or American football.)

It is characterised by inability to flex the finger at the distal interphalageal (DIP) joint. There is slight extension at this joint.  There is pain and tenderness over the volar distal finger.1

Radiographs can often be normal 3. If there is a bony avulsion, plain film would classically show a triangular avulsion fragment at the flexor aspect of the distal phalanx at the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint and overlying soft tissue swelling.

Disruption of flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) at volar base of distal phalanx ± avulsion fragment.  MRI also allows visualisation of the location of the end of tendons which will affect the surgical classification and management of the patient 4,5.

  • unstable DIP joint
  • development of secondary osteoarthritic changes
  • DIP flexion contracture or quadrigia
  • conservative for partial tear (i.e. splinting, NSAID's, physical therapy)
  • surgical intervention: all complete flexor tendon injuries should be surgically repaired or at least referred to an orthopaedic hand surgeon; tendon retraction and time from injury are key 1
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Article information

rID: 23394
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Rugby finger
  • Flexor digitorum profundus avulsion
  • Sweater finger

Cases and figures

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    Case 1: clinical appearance
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    Case 1
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