Flexor digitorum profundus avulsion injuries in Oztag players

Mohammed Baba, Jason N Harvey, Anthony J Beard and Richard D Lawson
Med J Aust 2013; 198 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/mja12.11534
Published online: 4 March 2013

To the Editor: Tag rugby, known in Australia as Oztag,1 is a popular low-contact version of rugby league in which an opponent is “tackled” by pulling a velcro tag off his or her shorts. The sport has over 40 000 participants in Australia1 and is perceived to pose a low risk of serious injury. However, hand injuries occur with some frequency2,3 and are often neglected. In particular, avulsion of the flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) insertion from the base of the terminal phalanx — commonly known as rugger jersey finger — may masquerade as a simple “sprain”. Failure to make the correct diagnosis early can result in serious impairment of function of the affected finger.4 Diagnosis is based on history, an examination demonstrating loss of active flexion of the distal interphalangeal joint of the affected finger, and a radiograph to assess for avulsion fractures. Ultrasound scanning can assist diagnosis in difficult cases.

  • Department of Hand Surgery and Peripheral Nerve Surgery, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, NSW.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Oztag Australia [website]. http://www.oztag. (accessed Nov 2012).
  • 2. Kaplan Y, Myklebust G, Nyska M, et al. The epidemiology of injuries in contact flag football. Clin J Sport Med 2013; 23: 39-44.
  • 3. O’Keeffe ME, Conroy FJ, Kelly J, et al. Tag rugby: a safe alternative? A review of hand injuries sustained playing tag rugby (2007 season). Emerg Med J 2011; 28: 599-600.
  • 4. Leddy JP, Packer JW. Avulsion of the profundus tendon insertion in athletes. J Hand Surg Am 1977; 2: 66-69.


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