What is Mallet Finger?
A mallet finger is a disruption of the terminal extensor tendon at the tip of the finger, where the tendon attaches to the bone. It can be either the result of a tendon avulsion (ripping off the bone) or a fracture of the bone (mallet fracture).
Symptoms & Causes
Pain and swelling are the most common symptoms of a mallet finger. Oftentimes, patients think they “jammed” their finger. The finger will also have limited extension at the tip and sometimes it will droop.
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.
Any mallet finger with a tendon avulsion seen within a month of injury can be treated non-operatively. For this, we use a mallet splint made by a hand therapist; off-the-shelf splints do not work. Mallet splints made by a hand therapist are non-removable, but patients can play sports, shower, and swim in them. They will be worn for six weeks. Patients that cannot tolerate splinting can opt for a pin to be placed in the finger holding the joint in extension.
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