Hand and Finger Tips: Mallet Finger

posted in: Finger Injuries

Did you ever jam your finger? One of the injuries that can result from a jammed finger is a mallet finger. In the photo below, this person is trying to straighten the finger but it stays bent at the tip. The name comes from the deformity looking like a hammer or mallet.

This person has lost the ability to straighten or extend the finger tip. This is a result of either a ruptured tendon or a broken bone. Sometimes the finger is sore. If the finger tip is lifted up by the other hand it can look straight but it falls back to a bent position if not supported. Home remedy treatment begins by applying a splint, such as a taped “popsicle stick” along the top of the finger to keep the finger straight. When seen by a medical professional, an x-ray determines if there is a fracture. Without a fracture, the treatment is splinting for 6-8 weeks, and a higher quality splint is made. This type of splinting is often called “religious” splinting as it takes a 100% commitment to the splinting and one has to “keep the faith” that the ruptured tendon can heal (more than 90% of the time) but is not checked to see how it is doing. If the bone is broken but not displaced, the treatment is the same. If the bone is broken and displaced, sometimes surgery is needed to restore the anatomy of the finger.