A mallet finger injury is a deformity of the finger that occurs when the extensor tendon - responsible for straightening your finger - becomes damaged. This damage can occur if your finger is forcibly bent or if the extensor tendon is torn. Symptoms of a mallet finger injury include pain, swelling, bruising, or collected blood beneath the nail of the affected finger.
At Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, our experienced, high-quality specialists offer various treatment options for mallet finger injuries to help you find relief for your condition. Mallet finger injuries can be treated by dorsal aluminum splints or commercial splints. However, surgical repair may be considered if there are large fracture fragments or joint misalignment in the finger. Our team will work alongside you at every step of your surgery and help you to develop a personalized rehabilitation plan to ensure a healthy, quick recovery process.
If you’re struggling with a mallet finger injury, do not allow your condition to worsen. Schedule your first consultation with the team at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists today. If you’re in an emergency situation, visit the Immediate Care Clinic at our Schaumburg, IL location.
A mallet finger is a deformity of a finger caused when a certain tendon (the extensor tendon) is damaged. When a ball or other object strikes the tip of the finger or thumb, the force damages the thin tendon that straightens the finger. The force of the blow may even pull away a piece of bone along with the tendon. The finger or thumb is not able to be straightened. This condition is also known as baseball finger.
The finger is usually painful, swollen, and bruised. The fingertip may droop noticeably. Occasionally, blood collects beneath the nail. The nail can even become detached from beneath the skin fold at the base of the nail.
The majority of mallet finger injuries can be treated without surgery. Ice should be applied immediately and the hand should be elevated above the level of the heart. Medical attention should be sought within a week after injury. It is very important to seek immediate attention if there is blood beneath the nail or if the nail is detached. This may be a sign of nail bed laceration or open (compound) fracture.
Types of splints used to treat mallet finger. A, Dorsal aluminum splint. B, Commercial splint.
The doctor may apply a splint to hold the fingertip straight (in extension) until it heals. Most of the time, a splint will be worn full time for eight weeks. Over the next three to four weeks, most patients gradually begin to wear the splint less frequently. Although the finger usually regains an acceptable function and appearance with this treatment plan, many patients may not regain full fingertip extension.
In children, mallet finger injuries may involve the cartilage that controls bone growth. The doctor must carefully evaluate and treat this injury in children, so that the finger does not become stunted or deformed.
Surgical repair may be considered when mallet finger injuries also show signs of large fracture fragments or joint malalignment. In these cases, surgery is done to repair the fracture using pins, pins and wire, or even small screws. Surgery may also be considered if nonsurgical treatment fails.
It is not common to treat a mallet finger surgically if bone fragments or fractures are not present. This is usually reserved for patients who have a very severe deformity or who cannot use their finger properly. Surgical treatment of the damaged tendon can include tightening the stretched tendon tissue, using tendon grafts, or even fusing the joint straight.
An orthopedic surgeon should be consulted in making the decision to treat this condition surgically.