Managing Mallet Finger

A mallet finger is a deformity of the finger caused when the tendon that straightens your finger (the extensor tendon) is damaged.  To put it more simply, mallet finger is where the end joint of a finger bends but will not straighten by itself. The joint can be pushed straight but will not hold that position on its own.

What Causes a Mallet Finger?

Mallet finger occurs when the end joint of the finger is injured.  The tendon on the back of the finger is separated from the joint it connects.  Some of the most common causes of mallet finger include:

  • An athletic injury
  • Any rapid motion that jams the tip of a finger against an object
  • If the tendon ruptures with a small fracture caused by the force of an injury
  • Basketball and baseball routinely experience jammed fingers
  • From a cut finger while working in the kitchen

What are the Symptoms of a Mallet Finger?

It is common for people with mallet speaker to wait on seeking medical attention even if they are in a lot of pain, simply because they can still use their hand.  Common symptoms may include:

  • Swelling and redness soon after the injury
  • Inability to completely extend the finger while still being able to move it with help
  • Pain, swelling and tenderness at the outermost joint immediately after the injury
  • If blood collects beneath the nail, the nail can become detached from beneath the skin fold at the base of the nail

If you are experiencing symptoms of mallet finger,  request to schedule an appointment with one of our hand therapists today.

What is the Treatment for Mallet Finger?

Most people with a mallet finger can seek treatment by a therapist.  A physical therapist can provide a comfortable splint to straighten the finger, and exercises later if stiffness is an issue.  A good splint is important because effective treatment involves wearing the splint for a long period of time.

If a splint and physical therapy fails, surgery may be necessary to repair the torn tendon.  It may take several months for your mallet finger to fully recover to its full function.  Symptoms will also improve eventually.

If you have mallet finger, schedule your appointment with Desert Hand Therapy today!  Call your doctor right away if:

  • Your pain gets worse at any time
  • The skin of your finger changes color
  • Your finger is still swollen at the end of your treatment time
  • You develop numbness or tingling in your finger
New Patient Scheduling Call or Text: (602) 231-8511