What is a Mallet Finger?
- A mallet finger is a thin tendon injury that straightens the end joint of a thumb or a finger. Commonly known as “baseball finger”, anyone can have this type of injury when a ball or any other unyielding object hits the tip of your thumb or finger and forces it to bend further than it is intended to go. Because of that, you won’t be able to straighten the tip of your fingers on your own.
What causes a Mallet Finger?
- A mallet finger is a result of a damaged extensor tendon. This will stop you from stretching or straightening your thumb or finger.
- It’s caused by pressure brought by unyielded objects hitting the tip of your fingers or thumb.
What are the symptoms of Mallet Finger?
- When you have a mallet finger, you won’t be able to straighten your finger on its own. The fingertip will droop noticeably and can be swollen, painful, and bruised, especially if there’s a fracture associated. Sometimes, blood collects beneath the nail and the nail can even become detached from the skin fold.
How is Mallet Finger Treated?
The mallet finger can be easily diagnosed by the finger’s physical appearance. Doctors usually order X-rays to check if the joint is aligned or if a piece of bone is pulled away.
- Non Surgical Treatment
The good news is, most cases of mallet finger do not require surgery. Ice should be immediately applied on the affected finger and the hand should be elevated. You should seek medical attention within a week after the injury. If you notice blood clots forming beneath your nails, seek immediate attention. It can be a sign of an open fracture or a nail bed laceration.
There are different types of casts or splints that you can use for mallet fingers. Their main goal is to keep the fingertip straight until the tendon heals. A splint has to be worn for eight weeks. You can gradually wear the splint less frequently after.
Your hand therapist or surgeon will instruct you how to wear your splint and will show you exercises to maintain middle joint motion so your finger will not become stiff.
- Surgical Treatment
Surgery may be needed when your mallet finger is associated with large bone fragments or joint misalignment. To secure the bone fragment and realign the joint, wires, pins, and small screws are used.
Surgery is also considered for people who cannot wear splints or for those with unsuccessful non surgical treatments.