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Finger Flexor Tendon Injury

(Jersey Finger)

Definition

Tendons connect muscles to bone. The fingers have tendons that run all the way up to the finger tips. The tendons on the palm side let you curl your fingers. A flexor tendon injury is damage to these tendons. When the tendons are damaged, you can lose your ability to bend your finger(s).

Healthy Flexor Tendons of the Hand

flexor tendon
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes    TOP

Flexor tendon injures commonly occur as a cut or laceration to the hand. Other causes include:

  • Damage to the tendon from:
    • A cut to fingers—palm side
    • A sports injury:
      • Stretching of tendon
      • Jersey finger—when finger catches on another player’s jersey or clothing
    • Rheumatoid arthritis

Risk Factors    TOP

Factors that may increase your chance of a flexor tendon injury include:

  • Participating in certain sports, such as:
    • Rugby
    • Football
    • Wrestling
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms    TOP

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Inability to bend finger
  • Cut to hand or fingers
  • Loss of sensation

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. During the exam, you will be asked to bend and straighten your fingers. The doctor will also check your fingers for sensation, blood flow, and strength. You may be referred to a hand surgeon or an orthopedist—a doctor who specializes in bones.

Treatment    TOP

Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Most patients with this type of injury require surgery. Surgery may be scheduled right away or within several days. Treatment options include the following:

Medications

Depending on the type of injury, antibiotics may be given to prevent infection.

Surgery

Tendons that are cut or ruptured require surgery. The hand surgeon may sew the tendon back together. It may be necessary to sew the tendon back to the muscle.

A splint may be worn after surgery to protect the hand. A physical therapist or occupational therapist can help regain finger strength and range of motion.

Prevention    TOP

Flexor tendon injuries are typically caused by accidental injuries. There are no known prevention guidelines for this injury.

RESOURCES:

American Society for Surgery of the Hand
http://www.assh.org
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Orthopaedic Association
http://www.coa-aco.org
When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://whenithurtstomove.org

References:

Flexor tendon injuries. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated January 2011. Accessed August 24, 2017.
Flexor tendon injuries. American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Published 2012. Accessed August 24, 2017.
Ruchelsman DE, Christoforou D, et al. Avulsion injuries of the flexor digitorum profundus tendon. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2011;19(3):152-162.
Last reviewed August 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 9/25/2014

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