October 25, 2017

What is baseball finger (mallet finger)?

Hand, Wrist and Elbow | Sports Injury | Urgent Care

THIS POST IS PART OF THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SPORTS MEDICINE

Mallet finger, also known as baseball finger, occurs when something 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.

What are the symptoms of mallet finger?

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Drooping finger tip

How is mallet finger diagnosed?

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 OrthoIndy hand, wrist and elbow specialist

How is mallet finger treated?

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.

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Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

Megan Golden

By Megan Golden

Megan Golden worked at OrthoIndy from 2012 to 2019, where she wrote a variety of content for our blog, magazines and inbound campaigns. Megan graduated from Ball State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising and communications studies minor.

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