When you need treatment for mallet finger or any other tendon injury of the hand, turn to the experienced orthopedic specialists at TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute and Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. We focus on creating customized treatment plans that fit your lifestyle so that you can return to a pain-free, active lifestyle.
Mallet finger is an injury that occurs when the tendon (extensor tendon) connecting the tip of the finger and the middle section of the finger tears. Also called baseball finger, it is usually caused by a forceful blow to the tip of the finger. The torn tendon prevents the finger from extending fully, giving it a jammed or bent appearance. In some cases, the tendon tears away from the bone so forcefully that a piece of bone breaks off, resulting in a fracture called an avulsion fracture.
Mallet finger causes
Mallet finger is almost always the result of sudden trauma to the finger. Common causes include:
- Sports injuries, especially from baseball and basketball
- Jamming the finger forcefully
- Crush injuries from lifting heavy objects or working with machinery
- Cuts that sever the tip of the finger
Mallet finger symptoms
In addition to the most obvious symptom of a bent fingertip, mallet finger can also cause the following symptoms:
- Inability to fully extend the finger
- Pain and swelling at the fingertip joint
Mallet finger treatment
Mallet finger rarely requires surgery. The most common treatment process for mallet finger includes:
- Doing stretches and physical therapy to regain tendon strength and elasticity
- Gradually returning to normal activities
- Wearing a finger splint for 6-12 weeks as the tendon heals
Surgery is reserved for severe instances of mallet finger where a complex avulsion fracture has occurred, or if the injury is secondary to a laceration. The surgeon will usually repair the tendon and realign the broken finger bone with pins or small screws.
Mallet finger risk factors
This risk of sustaining a finger tendon injury like mallet finger or baseball finger is highest in:
- Construction workers
Mallet finger prevention
Since mallet finger is usually caused by injuries, avoiding certain activities like baseball and basketball can help prevent injury. You can also:
- Follow safety guidelines when lifting heavy objects or using machinery.
- Stretch the finger tendons before and after periods of exertion.
- Wear protective hand equipment when using knives or sharp tools.
Make an appointment
Mallet finger requires fast, effective treatment to ensure that no permanent damage or nerve injury occurs. With the right care, most people regain finger mobility within several weeks or months. Learn more or make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist: Call TriHealth at 513 246 2300 or our orthopedic partner, Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, at 513 961 HAND or 513 961 4263.