Mallet Finger

GENERAL INFORMATION

Mallet finger is a common problem for several types of athletes, namely baseball players. Mallet finger involves an injury at the tip of your finger that makes you unable to straighten it completely. To help people make informed decisions for their health and dispel any concerns they have regarding joint or tendon injury in the hand, we’ve provided the detailed information below.

A mallet finger injury is sometimes referred to as droop finger or baseball finger. It is an injury to the tendon that allows the tip of your finger or thumb to straighten. With mallet finger injuries, the tendons in your finger can tear or detach from the finger bone, causing pain, swelling and bruising.

Causes of a Mallet Finger Injury

During sports, mallet finger typically occurs when a person tries to catch a hard ball and it hits the extended fingertip, which is why the injury typically occurs in your dominant hand. While mallet trauma is common in sports that involve catching a hard ball, it can also occur from household activities, such as hitting the tip of your finger on a door or wall or getting the fingertip caught in a closing door.

Causes of a Mallet Finger Injury

The symptoms of this finger injury include:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Redness
  • Tenderness
  • A detached fingernail
  • Redness underneath the fingernail bed
  • Unable to straighten the tip of the finger

To properly diagnose your mallet finger injury, you will most likely have to see a doctor and get an X-ray done. Your doctor will be able to look at your X-ray and see if the tendon has been injured, torn, or detached from the finger bone. Another way a doctor may examine the injury is by using ultrasound or MRI, but this is quite rare.

Mallet Finger Treatment

Mallet finger treatment does not always require surgery, but an exam from your doctor will dictate whether or not the injury is severe enough to require a procedure. To treat mallet finger there are both immediate and long-term treatment strategies to reduce pain and restore your finger’s health:

For short-term treatment:

  • Keep the finger cold to help with swelling. Wrap an ice pack in a towel and gently place it on your finger.
  • Keep your hand above your head to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Use over-the-counter pain medications.

For long-term treatment:

  • If needed, your doctor might place your finger in a splint.Careful removal of the split is allowed once a day so you can keep the area clean.
  • If part of the bone was pulled off during the injury, another X-ray may be ordered after a week of healing to ensure the proper position is being restored during recovery.
  • Surgery may be recommended if an X-ray shows the joint is misaligned or there are bone fragments, or if the finger has broken as a result of the mallet injury. If this treatment is recommended, you may consider seeking care from an orthopaedic surgeon to learn about your surgical options.

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