What is a Mallet Finger?
Mallet finger occurs when the tendon that straightens the tip of the finger (usually the middle, ring, or small) is torn or ruptured. The injury is typically caused by an object, such as a ball, hitting the tip of the finger. The most noticeable symptoms are drooping of the fingertip and inability to straighten without assistance. Additional symptoms may include pain, swelling, and/or bruising.
How is a Mallet Finger Diagnosed?
The diagnosis is evident by the appearance of the finger. However, x-rays are taken to determine if a piece of bone pulled away with the tendon, and to see if joint is aligned.
How is Mallet Finger Treated?
Mallet finger is—in the majority of cases—treated without surgery using a small finger splint. When properly and consistently worn, the splint holds the fingertip straight, which gives the tendon time to heal. After about 8-weeks splinting, the injury is re-evaluated and, depending on the amount of healing that has taken place, the splint may be removed. Many different types of splints are available, and the “right one” is individualized to the patient.
Surgery is reserved for patients who have a displaced fracture or joint that needs to be realigned. Alternatively, in rare instances, if it is not feasible to wear the external splint, a surgery using a small pin to keep the finger straight is performed.