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Finger Flexor Tendon Injury

(Jersey Finger)

Definition

A finger flexor tendon injury is damage to the tissues that help the finger move. It can make it hard to bend the finger.

Healthy Flexor Tendons of the Hand
flexor tendon

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Causes

This injury is often caused by a cut to the finger, hand, or arm. Other causes are:

  • A sports injury:
    • Stretching the tendon too far in sports that use hand strength, such as rock climbing
    • Catching the finger on another player’s shirt (Jersey finger)
  • Weak flexor tendons from health problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis

Risk Factors

Things that may raise your chance of this injury are:

  • Playing certain sports, such as:
    • Rugby
    • Football
    • Wrestling
  • Having health problems that weaken flexor tendons, such as rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms

Symptoms may be:

  • A cut on the palm side of your hand
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Problems bending one or more joints of a finger
  • Loss of feeling in a finger

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will ask how the injury happened. The finger will be checked. A doctor who treats bones may need to look at it.

Treatment

A splint will be needed to protect the finger. Other options are:

Medications

Antibiotics may be needed to treat or prevent infection.

Surgery

Most people will need surgery to repair the tendon. Exercises will also be given to help with finger strength and motion.

Prevention

This injury happens due to accidents. There are no guidelines to prevent it.

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

Trauma Association of Canada
http://www.traumacanada.org

REFERENCES:

Flexor tendon injuries. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00015. Updated January 2011. Accessed September 23, 2019.

Flexor tendon injuries. American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at: http://www.assh.org/handcare/hand-arm-injuries/Flexor-Tendon. Published 2013. Accessed September 23, 2019.

Jersey finger—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/management/jersey-finger-emergency-management. Accessed September 23, 2019.

Tuttle HG, Olvey SP, Stern PJ. Tendon avulsion injuries of the distal phalanx. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2006 Apr;445:157-68.

Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS  Last Updated: 9/23/2019