Mallet finger is an injury to the thin tendon/bone that straightens the end joint of a finger or thumb. Although it is also known as “baseball finger,” this injury can happen to anyone when an unyielding object (like a ball) strikes the tip of a finger or thumb and forces it to bend further than it is intended to go.
If you have a mallet finger injury, your finger will:
- Droop at the tip
- Look bruised and swollen
- May hurt
- Unable to straighten your finger
Types of Mallet Finger
3 types of injuries
Tendon damaged but no fracture
Tendon ruptures with a small fracture
Tendon ruptures with a large fracture
Signs and symptoms of Mallet Finger
Your finger may feel painful after the injury, and your fingertip will droop. You’ll still be able to use your hand. Pain is often associated with a bone fracture.
Other mallet finger symptoms are:
Inability to straighten your fingertip unless you use your other hand to hold it up
Causes of Mallet Finger
Mallet Finger is caused by :-
Simple cut or laceration
Hyperflexion of the Extensor Digitorum Tendon
Complications of Mallet Finger
If a mallet finger is left untreated, your finger can become stiff. The finger may also develop a swan neck deformity.
A mallet finger in a children involves an additional concern. This is because it may affect the growth plates in the finger that controls bone growth.
How long will it take for a mallet finger to heal?
In many cases, it should take around 6-8 weeks. A physiotherapy or hand therapist may help will also be engaged to prevent the finger from becoming stiff.
How is mallet finger treated?
Splinting is the first-line treatment for a mallet finger. The goal is to keep the fingertip straight in the splint until the tendon heals.
Usually, your mallet finger will stay in a splint for at least six weeks. After that, you will wear the splint only at night for another two weeks. You may be advised to wear your splint for other high-risk activities, such as manual work or sports, during those two weeks.
Surgery is generally recommended for complex mallet finger injuries. These include injuries where:
- The joint is not properly aligned.
- The tendon requires a graft of tendon tissue from someplace else on your body.
Surgery may be open, where the skin is cut to expose the tendon, or done with a needle puncture (percutaneous). Hardware will be inserted to keep the fingertip straight until the tendon is healed. Hardware options include:
If you suspect that you might have a mallet finger that you wish to consult, please do not hesitate to contact our team at Spire Orthopaedics. Book a consultation session with us if you have any questions for our Doctor.