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