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Flexor tendon injury of the distal interphalangeal joint (jersey finger)

Rebecca Bassett, MD
Section Editor
Patrice Eiff, MD
Deputy Editor
Jonathan Grayzel, MD, FAAEM


Rupture of the flexor digitorum profundus tendon from its distal attachment is commonly known as jersey finger. This injury occurs most often in athletes involved in contact sports, such as American football or rugby [1]. The injury is often overlooked by players and trainers and misdiagnosed as a "jammed" or sprained finger, but requires more urgent management than these minor injuries.

The mechanism, diagnosis, and management of jersey finger will be reviewed here. The management of other finger injuries is discussed separately. (See "Extensor tendon injury of the distal interphalangeal joint (mallet finger)" and "Distal phalanx fractures" and "Middle phalanx fractures".)


Finger anatomy is complex and is discussed in greater detail elsewhere. Anatomy of particular relevance to jersey finger injuries is described below. (See "Finger and thumb anatomy".)

The flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) tendon travels along the volar side of the palm and finger and passes distally through a split in the flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) tendon to insert at the base of the distal phalanx (figure 1 and figure 2). The FDP is responsible for flexion of the DIP joint and is weakest at its insertion (figure 3) [1].

Tendinous bands called vincula help to secure the FDS and the FDP and carry small penetrating blood vessels and nerves. The vincula also assist with PIP and DIP motion. The FDP receives its blood supply via the vincula longa and vinculum breve, which are fed by branches of the digital arteries. The more the tendon retracts following rupture, the more likely the vascular supply will be disrupted, thereby increasing the risk of complication [2].


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Oct 30, 2015.
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