Fall sports bring several common injuries to the fingertips and all can decrease playing time, or require surgery. The return of school and the fall season brings the excitement of our beloved fall sports, HS Softball, Football, Volleyball, and Soccer you name it but with these fun activities comes the potential risk of injuries. Let’s take a look at some of these common injuries:
- Jersey finger flexor tendon
- Mallet finger extensor tendon- if not treated will lead to a swan neck deformity.
- Boutonniere –“coaches finger”
Jersey finger – refers to a rupture of the flexor tendon that bends the fingertip. The name comes from football athletes who have gripped a jersey of an opposing player who is trying to break a tackle. This injury requires immediate surgery as the tendon can recoil into the finger and shorten. If left untreated for several weeks it may not be able to be returned to the other end for suture repair. If not repaired the fingertip with have an unopposed force into extension and the finger’s ability to pinch will be affected.
Mallet Finger – is another injury to the fingertip, but this is of the extensor tendon on the back of the finger. It controls the extension of the tip. If left untreated there will be a permanent droop to the tip. This injury can be treated conservatively but it requires 6-8 weeks of splinting of the tip of the finger in extension. Due to this many athletes opt to not repair so they can participate in their sport during the season. In some cases, this is treated surgically.
Boutonniere Deformity – an injury of the finger that is often mistaken for a jammed finger. We, in therapy, call this “coach’s finger” because the coach pulls on the finger and then tells the player to get back in the game. Then six weeks later the tip is hyperextended and the middle joint is flexed, and the patient is unable to actively extend the finger and sometimes cannot straighten it with the other hand. It requires 6 weeks of continual splinting with the finger in full extension at the middle joint, so the tendon can heal. Normally conservative treatment is successful but if not, surgery is another option.
If you do experience any of these fingertip-related injuries make sure you have them evaluated by a medical professional. Our team at the Milliken Hand Rehabilitation Center is always here to help!