Mallet Finger

Mallet finger is an injury to the slim tendon which straightens the end joint of a finger or thumb. Though it is also known as "baseball finger," this injury can happen to anyone whenever an unrelenting object (such as a ball) strikes the tip of a finger or thumb and forces it to bend further than it is meant to go. As a result, you are not able to straighten the tip of your finger or thumb on your own. With a mallet finger injury, the fingertip droops and can not be actively straightened.

If you might be plagued with mallet finger or any such injury, the best thing you can do is to go to a reliable orthopedic physician in Central Missouri like Dr. Kathleen Weaver of Audrain Orthopaedics. However, before you take that step, please have a look at this information about mallet finger.


Tendons are tissues that connect muscles to bone. The muscles that move the fingers and thumb lie within the forearm. Lengthy tendons extend from these muscular tissues through the wrist and connect to the little bones of the fingers and thumb.

The extensor tendons on the top of the hand straighten the fingers. The flexor tendons on the palm side of the hand bend the fingers.


orthopaedics central missouri tennis elbow mallet finger audrain orthopaedics mexico MOIn a mallet wound, whenever an object hits the tip of the finger or thumb, the force of the blow tears the extensor tendon. Occasionally, a small force such as tucking in a bed sheet can create a mallet finger.

The injury may rupture the tendon or pull the tendon out of the place where it attaches to the finger bone (distal phalanx). Sometimes, a small portion of bone is pulled away together with the tendon. This is called an avulsion injury.

The long, ring, and little fingers of the dominant hand are most likely to be injured.


The finger is generally painful, inflamed, and bruised. The fingertip will droop noticeably and will straighten only if you push it up with your other hand.

Risk for Infection

It is essential to get urgent attention if there is blood underneath the nail or if the nail is removed. This may suggest a cut within the nail bed, or that the finger bone is broken and the cut penetrates down to the bone tissue (open fracture). These kinds of injuries put you at risk for infection.

First Aid

To relieve discomfort and lessen swelling, apply ice to your finger right away and keep your hand elevated above your heart.

Doctor Examination

A mallet finger accident demands medical treatment to guarantee the finger restores as much function as possible. Most Central Missouri physicians advise seeking treatment inside a week of injury. However, there have been instances in which treatment was postponed for as long as a month following injury and full healing was still attained.

Physical Examination

After discussing your clinical history and symptoms, your physician will look over your finger or thumb. During the examination, your physician will hold the afflicted finger and ask you to straighten it yourself. This is referred to as the mallet finger test.


Your doctor will likely order x-rays of the injury. If a fragment of the distal phalanx was pulled away whenever the tendon ruptured, or if there is a larger fracture of the bone, it is going to show up in an x-ray. An x-ray is going to also show whether the injury took the bones of the joint out of alignment.


Mallet finger wounds that are not addressed generally result in stiffness and impairment of the injured fingertip. The majority of mallet finger injuries can be addressed without surgery.

In children, mallet finger accidents might involve the cartilage which controls bone growth. The doctor must carefully assess and treat this injury in youngsters, to ensure that the finger does not become stunted or deformed.

Nonsurgical Treatment

A lot of mallet finger injuries are treated with splinting. A splint holds the fingertip straight (in extension) until it heals.

To recover function to the finger, the splint must be worn full-time for 8 weeks. This means that it must be worn while bathing, then carefully changed after bathing. As the splint dries out, you must keep your injured finger straight. If the fingertip droops at all, healing is disrupted and you will need to wear the splint for a much longer period of time.

Because wearing a splint for a long period of time can irritate the skin, your doctor may speak with you about how to carefully check your skin for problems. Your physician might also schedule additional visits throughout the 8 weeks to keep track of your progress.

For 3 to 4 weeks after the initial splinting period, you will gradually wear the splint less frequently-- maybe only during the night. Splinting treatment usually results in both acceptable function and appearance, however, many patients might not recover full fingertip extension.

For some patients, the splinting regimen is extremely tough. In these instances, the doctor may choose to insert a temporary pin across the fingertip joint to keep it straight for 8 weeks.

Surgical Treatment

Your doctor may think about surgical repair if there is a big fracture fragment or the joint is out of line (subluxed). In these situations, surgery is performed to restore the fracture using pins to hold the pieces of bone together whilst the injury heals.

It is not prevalent to deal with a mallet finger surgically if bone fragments or fractures are absent. Surgical treatment of the damaged tendon usually requires a tendon graft-- tendon tissue that is taken (harvested) from some other part of your body-- or even fusing the joint straight.

An orthopedic surgeon should be consulted in making the decision to treat this condition surgically. If you are looking for an orthopedic specialist and you reside in Mexico, Centralia, Fulton, or Columbia, MO, think about Audrain Orthopaedics.

We walked many a mile and saw lots of beautiful scenery!  Thanks for fixing my knee!

S.D. age57