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What Is Jersey Finger?

What Is Jersey Finger?

From head-on tackles to unexpected sideswipes, players in contact sports face a lot of risks in their athletic careers. Even something as simple as grabbing another player’s jersey puts athletes at risk of a tendon injury known as jersey finger. To better help players avoid this injury, let’s first take a look at the causes and treatment options available.  

How Players Get Jersey Finger

Jersey finger is an injury to the flexor tendon that starts at the tip of the finger and runs to the base, typically the result of a tear. While jersey finger isn’t an injury exclusive to athletes, it is largely seen in sports including football, basketball, and soccer. Athletes in such sports typically suffer from jersey finger when grabbing another player’s jersey as that player is running in the opposite direction. Similarly, an athlete can sustain a jersey finger injury if they grab another player’s uniform and that player suddenly pulls away. 

How to Diagnose the Injury  

Patients with jersey finger typically report symptoms that include: 

  • A ripping sensation when sustaining the injury 
  • Pain and inflammation shortly after being injured 
  • Bruising that appears roughly two days after the incident 
  • Limited mobility and prolonged sensitivity in the affected finger 

However, a jersey finger injury should never be diagnosed by someone other than a medical professional. Sports medicine specialists can perform a thorough examination to identify where the pain stems from and how it affects the patient’s finger mobility. From there, a specialist may determine whether to recommend a patient for diagnostic testing, such as an X-ray or MRI. 

How to Treat Jersey Finger 

Patients that suffer from partial tears to the flexor tendon may be eligible for non-surgical treatment that includes a careful regulation of rest, NSAIDs, splinting, and physical therapy. Treatment for a complete flexor tendon tear, however, requires a combination of conservative practices, such as rest and pain-relief medication, as well as operative intervention. During the procedure, a surgeon will reattach the tendon and correct its position within the finger. Patients can expect to return to contact sports in as little as eight weeks. 

Sports Medicine Specialists in the St. Augustine Community 

If you think you’ve fractured a finger, dislocated a finger joint, or sustained an injury as serious as jersey finger, it’s critical to have your injury evaluated. Otherwise, you could prolong your time away from the field and worsen the symptoms of your injury. That’s why the sports medicine specialists at Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine are always here to assess athletic injuries. To schedule an appointment, complete our online request form or call our office at 904-825-0540.


Alexander Lampley, MD
Board Certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.