Mallet Finger Overview

Mallet Finger Overview

Commonly an athletic injury, mallet finger occurs when the outermost joint of the finger is injured. Basketball and baseball players routinely experience jammed fingers, but the injury can occur because of a crushing accident on the job or even because of a cut finger while working in the kitchen.
With mallet finger, the tendon on the back of the finger (not the palm side) is separated from the muscles it connects.

People with mallet finger may delay seeking medical attention-even though they may be in a great deal of pain-simply because they can still use their hand.

Symptoms may include the following:
  • Pain, tenderness, and swelling at the outermost joint immediately after the injury
  • Swelling and redness soon after the injury
  • Inability to completely extend the fingerbut can move it with help

Three types of injuries commonly occur:
The tendon is damaged, but no fractures (bone cracks or breaks) are present.

The tendon ruptures with a small fracture caused by the force of the injury.

The tendon ruptures with a large fracture.

If the finger is not broken or cut, or if only a small fracture is present, the doctor applies a splint to the end of the finger so it remains extended. With a splint, the outermost joint on the injured finger is not bendable, but the rest of your finger is bendable. This splintneeds tobe wornfor at least 6 weeks, perhaps longer, to ensure that the tendon is given the best chance of healing.

The doctor also repairs any cuts or damage to the skin. And, if necessary, the tendon may be stitched (sutured) to repair it.

For pain relief, apply ice to the joint.
Results of treatment of mallet finger injuriesvary.
Many people regain full function of the finger with no long-term effects.

Other peopledevelop a long-term deformity known as a swan neck, which involves the finger joints.

For minor mallet finger injuries, splinting and surgery have been shown to have the same results.

This is not a substitute for a professional, medical diagnosis. However, these symptom descriptions may help you understand your symptoms and talk with your doctor or other healthcare professional.

Source: - accessed 81/2011