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What is Rugby Jersey Finger?
Rugby Jersey Finger, also known as an FDP rupture or just jersey finger, is a finger injury common amongst, but not limited to, rugby players. Specifically, the injury occurs as a tear in one of the four flexor tendons in each finger.
Jersey finger is typically a sporting injury, that occurs mainly in rugby and American football. The injury occurs when grabbing an opponent’s shirt. As the fingers are bent around it, when the opponent wrestles away, it can cause a forced extension of the fingers, tearing the tendon where it meets the bone at the tip of the finger. The ruptured tendon can retract to the base of the finger or hand, as it’s no longer connected to the bone.
There will be some discomfort at the fingertip, and the finger will no longer be bendable at the end joint.
Jersey Finger is likely if there’s some tenderness and bruising at the fingertip, and possibly in the palm of the hand. If Jersey Finger is suspected, an x-ray will need to be performed to see if the tendon has pulled any bone off with it. MRI or ultrasound scans may also be performed.
To reduce pain or inflammation, the finger should be rested in ice after the injury occurs. If the tendon has completely torn off the bone, surgery will be needed to reattach, with best results coming if this is performed within around 10 days of the injury. The surgery will see the tendon reattached to the original site under general anaesthetic. If the tendon is only partially torn, surgery may not be needed, with non-surgical options such as splinting or physical therapy available.
After surgery, the finger will remain splinted for around six weeks, with the splint on the back of the hand, preventing stress on the tendon. It’s important the finger isn’t fully straightened after surgery, as the tendon could be pulled off as a result. Hand and finger strengthening exercises can also be performed to avoid stiffness.