What is a mallet finger?
A mallet is used to hit an object; a mallet finger is one that has been hit with something hard, like a baseball. The tendon on the top of the hand is called the extensor tendon; if this tendon is hit and torn, you won’t be able to straighten the tip of the affected finger.
Your finger will be bruised, swollen, and painful, and you’ll only be able to straighten it if you push it with your other hand (don’t do this!).
Usually caused by something forceful hitting the tip of your finger, you can also get this type of injury by knocking your finger the wrong way into a piece of furniture or anything unyielding.
“If there’s any bleeding, or your nail has been pulled off, get medical attention immediately; there might be a fracture as well as a tendon tear. Otherwise, get to the doctor as soon as you can to retain the most mobility in your finger. Most likely, after taking your medical history and performing an exam, your physician will take x-rays just to make sure that the bones haven’t been broken or pulled out of alignment by the impact,” says Frank Corrigan, MD, an orthopedic physician at OINJ. “If the patient is young, the situation will need to be carefully evaluated, because the cartilage that controls bone growth might be affected. The finger needs to be treated correctly so that the finger does not get stunted or damaged in any other way.”
“Splinting is something often done in cases like these,” says Dr. Corrigan. “A young player may resent wearing it, but if the splint is taken off, it just prolongs the healing time. Exercises will accompany the splinting, of course. Surgical repair will most likely only be necessary if there was movement in the joint, or if the blow takes a piece of bone away from the tendon.”