Mallet Finger, or Baseball Finger, is a common sports injury to the tendons in the outermost joint in the finger. Tendons are tissues that connect the muscles to the bones and help in movement. The extensor tendons are those that keep the fingers straight while the flexor tendons allow them to bend. Mallet Finger occurs when the extensor tendon gets dislocated or torn, leading to deformity in the joint.
- The condition usually occurs when the ball hits the finger with a sudden force and damages the tendons that straighten the fingers. As a result, the tip of the finger droops and loses the power to straighten on its own.
- Besides sports, the injury may also occur due to a cut at the end of the finger or at the side of the nail while working in the kitchen, workplace or outdoors.
- Drooping fingertip
- Redness and swelling
- Inability to move or straighten the finger
- Bruising and discoloration
- A Mallet Finger test may be conducted to diagnose the condition. In this, the orthopedic doctor holds the affected finger and asks the patient to straighten it without using the other hand.
- X-rays may also be conducted to determine any misalignment in the bones of the joint.
In most cases, Mallet Finger can be treated with non-surgical interventions and may take a few weeks to heal completely. In case a fracture or joint displacement accompanies the condition, surgical treatment may be required. Depending upon the severity of the symptoms, the orthopedic doctor may recommend the following treatment options:
- Applying ice wrapped in a piece of clean cloth or towel to reduce swelling and pain.
- Keeping the forearm elevated above chest level to prevent blood flow to the finger tips.
- Compressing with an elastic bandage to control bleeding in case of a cut.
- Taking a prescribed course of anti-inflammatory medications to reduce inflammation.
- Wearing a splint for a few weeks to keep the fingertip straight.
- Performing certain exercises to strengthen the fingers and prevent stiffness.
- Inserting screws, pins or wires to surgically realign the finger joints.
- Using a tendon graft to tighten the tissues and bring back the finger in shape.
- It is a general tendency to treat Mallet Finger as a minor injury and people do not seek immediate medical intervention.
- However, delayed diagnosis and treatment may hamper the healing process and, in some cases, lead to permanent deformity of the affected finger.
Consult the doctors at OrthoTexas for complete diagnosis and treatment of Mallet Finger.