Mallet Finger

A mallet finger is an injury to the thin tendon that straightens the end or distal joint of a finger. It can occur to any finger, including the thumb. This occurs when an object strikes the tip of a finger forcing it to bend in a downward position. The tendon then becomes unattached from the bone and the finger can no longer straighten at the tip of the finger otherwise known as the distal phalanx. This injury is also known as "baseball finger."

Mallet Finger Symptoms

  • Swelling at the distal interphalangeal joint (last joint of the finger)
  • Pain
  • Inability to straighten the finger at the distal interphalangeal joint
  • The finger is held in a bent position.

Mallet Finger Treatment Options

  • Stack splint or alumafoam splint that positions the finger in hyperextension at the distal interphalangeal joint
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Decreasing activity to avoid heavy gripping

Mallet Finger Surgery (If applicable)

  • If indicated surgery can be performed for this injury. It may consist of placing a small pin into the tip of the finger to cross the joint and hold it in extension
  • In cases where the mallet finger is an old injury, it is also possible for the tendon to be reconstructed or to perform what is known as an "arthrodesis" or to joint the last bone and the middle bone together so that the distal interphalangeal joint does not move.
  • The need for surgery in a mallet finger is not a common occurrence