Mallet Finger

What is Mallet Finger?

Mallet Finger is a deformity in which the fingertip bends downward at the end joint and can no longer be straightened. Tendons attach the muscles in the forearm to the phalanx (finger bones) permitting movement of the fingers. Extensor tendons, located on the back on the hand, allow the fingers to straighten. While flexor tendons, located on the palmar surface, allow the fingers to bend. When the extensor tendon attached to the distal phalanx (fingertip bone) is damaged the fingertip loses the ability to be straightened on its own.


What causes Mallet Finger?

Mallet Finger is sometimes called Baseball Finger as it a common fast ball injury. While routinely seen in athletes, this deformity can also occur from crush injuries, jammed fingers or even a knife wound. Whether the extensor tendon is cut or the bone is fractured at the site of tendon attachment the result is the same. Any traumatic injury to the fingertip can result in Mallet Finger.


What are the symptoms of Mallet Finger?

The signature finger deformity will be evident at the time of injury. The distal phalanx will not straighten without physical assistance. Various degrees of pain, swelling, discoloration, and tenderness will be present dependent on whether or not the bone is fractured. If Mallet Finger is suspected, medical attention should be sought within a week of injury.


How is Mallet Finger diagnosed?

Mallet Finger is easily diagnosed due to its unique presentation. The physician will also complete a thorough history and physical examination of the hand. X-rays will be ordered to assess for the presence and extent of bone fracture. This aids in determining the appropriate treatment plan.


How is Mallet Finger treated?

Non-surgical

Most cases of Mallet Finger can be treated without surgery, as long as there are no large bone fractures. A special finger splint may be applied to hold the digit in proper alignment while the tendon heals. The splint is worn continuously for 6 – 8 weeks, then at night for an additional 2 weeks. If the finger does not respond to splinting then surgery may be indicated.

Surgical

Mallet Finger associated with large fractures or joint damage may require surgical intervention. The surgeon will use tiny pins, wires or screws to repair any fracture(s) allowing the bone to grow back together. In severe cases the joint may be fused straight. The tendon may be repaired with sutures or grafts depending on the extent of damage.Mallet Finger associated with large fractures or joint damage may require surgical intervention. The surgeon will use tiny pins, wires or screws to repair any fracture(s) allowing the bone to grow back together. In severe cases the joint may be fused straight. The tendon may be repaired with sutures or grafts depending on the extent of damage.


How can Dr. Knight help you with Mallet Finger?

Because this injury is not uncommon, Dr. Knight has encountered it many times over his career as a hand surgeon, and is well versed in its care and treatment. His experience makes him the best choice you can make to have your Mallet Finger treated and get you back to your life and work.


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HandAndWristInstitute.com does not offer medical advice. The information presented here is offered for informational purposes only. Read Disclaimer