Sports Medicine: Mallet Finger

A Spine Center physician reviews an X-ray.

Mallet Finger

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.”

Why Choose The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey

At OINJ, board certified physicians work collaboratively to come up with the best solutions for you. Using innovative techniques and the most up-to-date research and technologies available, our specialists have one goal: to get you back into the best of orthopedic health. We work with each other, as well as with other partners in your care, to develop the treatment plan that will work for you.

Our multiple office locations that can be reached by one centralized call center make it easy to schedule and get to appointments, and we treat patients of all ages with injuries and orthopedic conditions of all kinds.

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Featured Physician

Frank J. Corrigan, MD – Orthopedic Physician

Board certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery, Dr. Corrigan has a subspecialty certificate in Surgery of the Hand. His areas of expertise include fractures, hand and fingertip injuries, nerve and tendon repair, rotator cuff problems, and tennis elbow.

Dr. Corrigan completed a hand and upper extremity fellowship at the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine, and did his orthopedic residency at St. Louis University Medical Center in Missouri. He completed his surgical internship at the Mayo Clinic, and received his medical degree from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He earned his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis.

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The Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey is a premier multi-disciplinary center offering complete orthopedic care, rehabilitation and pain management services to patients of all ages and activity levels using a customized treatment plan to fit individual needs.

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