What is it?
A jersey finger is an injury to one of the the finger tendons. Typically, an athlete will sustain a jersey finger while participating in tackling sports such as Rugby, Judo or BJJ. The injuries are usually sustained while an athlete is grasping a player's jersey (when attempting a tackle in rugby) or during intense grip fighting in Judo and BJJ.
The injury usually ovccurs when a finger becomes stuck in the gi or jersey and then having the material being quickly ripped away.
A jersey finger is an injury to the flexor tendon of the finger. The flexor tendon pulls the finger down into the palm as you contract the flexor muscles of the forearm. The injury occurs at the tip of the finger, and typically the tendon snaps back to the base of the finger or even into the palm of the hand.
Symptoms of a Jersey Finger
An athlete who has sustained a jersey finger will be unable to bend the finger down into the palm of the hand. This is usually an obvious injury as the fingers normally rest in a partly flexed position. If you set your hand on the table at rest, the normal posture of the hand is a position similar to if you were to be holding a glass. The reason is that the tendons flexing (bending) and extending (straightening) your finger are balanced. Therefore the finger assumes this partly bent position. When the flexor tendon is injured, the finger will straighten excessively at rest. At rest, patients with a jersey finger will notice one finger straightened out unexpectedly.
Treatment of a Jersey Finger
There are a few different ways you can treat jersey finger depending on how bad a tear you have sustained. If you have completely torn the tendon then surgery is the best option to repaid the injury.
If you have only suffered a sprain or slight tear you may be able to tape your finger to prevent the finger from fully flexing and fully straightening. You may also want to ‘buddy tape’ your fingers (meaning you tape the injured finger to the finger next to it) and this will help the finger not become stuck in the gi or jumper while applying a technique.
For more Grappling injuries visit my grappling injuries page on the right.