October 25, 2017

What is baseball finger (mallet finger)?

Hand, Wrist and Elbow | Sports Injury

THIS POST IS PART OF THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SPORTS MEDICINE

Mallet finger, also known as baseball finger, occurs when some impacts the tip of a finger or thumb and forces it to bend further than it usually goes. As a result, you are unable to straighten the tip of your finger or thumb because of the injured tendon.

Anatomy

Tendons connect muscles to bones to allow movements. The extensor tendons on the top of the hand straighten the fingers. The flexor tendons on the palm side of the hand bend the fingers. In a mallet finger, the force of the impact tears the extensor tendon.

The injury can rupture the tendon or pull the tendon away from where it attaches to the finger bone. In some cases, a small piece of bone is pulled away with the tendon.

Symptoms

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Drooping finger tip

Physician Examination

To assess your fingertip injury, your physician will ask you for a complete medical history and what happened when you injured your finger, have you describe your symptoms and conduct a physical examination. An X-ray may be necessary to determine the severity of the injury and determine a further course of treatment.

Make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist

Treatment

In most cases, a mallet finger is treated with splinting. A splint will hold the fingertip straight until heals. Usually the splint must be worn for eight weeks, without removing it even for bathing. After the initial eight weeks, the splint is usually worn for three to four weeks on an occasional basis, perhaps during sleep.

Internal pinning or direct tendon repair can be performed when wearing a splint is not an option. Surgery may also be necessary if there is another injury in addition to the mallet finger or the joint is out of line. Surgery will include inserting pins to hold the pieces of bone together while the finger heals.

Rehabilitation

Sometimes hand therapy is necessary to get the finger moving fully after a severe injury.

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Megan Golden

By Megan Golden

Megan is the current marketing specialist for OrthoIndy. Megan graduated from Ball State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising and a communications studies minor and has been with OrthoIndy since then.

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