A “jersey finger” gets its name from, you guessed it, a sports jersey! Jersey fingers are a casual name for the disruption of a tendon in the finger, often times caused by gripping someone’s jersey with a clenched hand during a game while that person runs in the opposite direction. The force can cause your fingertip to abruptly extend, resulting in your tendon being pulled and sometimes even a chipped bone. This typically happens with the ring finger, but it can technically happen with any finger.
Hand surgeon David J. Bozentka, MD answers your questions about tendon injuries.
What is a tendon?
A tendon is a cord-like structure that attaches a muscle to a bone. The muscles that allow you to bend and straighten your fingers start in the forearm, and the tendons attach the muscles to your fingers and wrist. The tendons on the palm side of the hand that bend the fingers and wrist are called flexor tendons. The tendons on the back side of the hand and wrist are termed extensor tendons.
How do I know that I have a tendon injury?
Difficulty in fully bending or straightening your finger or wrist after an injury may be related to damage to a tendon. Lacerations (cuts) to the hand, wrist or forearm are some of the more common reasons you can injure a tendon. In addition, an injury without an open wound can cause a tendon to pull away from a bone called an avulsion injury. A Jersey Finger is a term used for a flexor tendon avulsion injury most commonly occurring in the ring finger. A player that grabs another player’s jersey that is pulled away can avulse a flexor tendon, causing inability to bend the tip joint of the finger. Alternatively, a Mallet Finger involves an avulsion injury of the extensor tendon leading to a droop of the tip joint of the involved digit.