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What's a mallet finger?


Mallet finger
Mallet finger injury

A mallet finger is a deformity where the end joint of the finger droops like a mallet or hammer because of an injury to the tendon and/or bone that holds the fingertip up.


What causes mallet finger?

The injury is usually caused when a fingertip gets jammed while it is straightened and is also known as “Baseball Finger”. It is a common injury in athletes, but we’ve also seen patients sustain mallet finger injuries simply from tucking in bed sheets to pulling on socks. The injury may be a ruptured tendon or a small bone chip (avulsion fracture).


What are the signs and symptoms of mallet finger?

Your finger may be swollen, red and tender at the end joint. The tell-tale sign is that your fingertip droops and you cannot straighten the tip of your finger.


What is the treatment for mallet finger?

A mallet finger injury may be treated very successfully with splinting, but timing and consistency is key. Sometimes people tend to ignore it as it’s not always painful. If you notice that your fingertip is bent and that you can’t straighten it, simply tape a popsicle stick to the end joint of your finger right away and see a Certified Hand Therapist as soon as possible.


At Empower Physiotherapy, we will attempt to see you right away as a custom-made splint is what you will need to wear for 6 to 8 weeks. The type of splint or even cast is dependent on you and your lifestyle so we will go through the options with you. You will have to maintain your finger in a straightened position through the whole healing time for the tendon to mend successfully so be prepared for a strict regimen. The sooner you start treatment, the better the results and you should achieve full recovery.


What happens if I leave a mallet finger untreated?

We urge you not to leave this injury unattended as it may then require surgery to correct it later. Also, if left over time, a mallet finger can develop into a swan neck deformity (more on that later) or a fused joint.

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