Mallet Finger

by | Nov 3, 2022 | Blog

Mallet injuries can occur to any finger (including the thumb). It occurs when the tendon that straightens the tip of the finger is overstretched. It commonly occurs in sporting activities, but can also occur by bumping or hooking your finger in normal daily tasks, such as making your bed or putting your hand into a tight pocket.

How will I know if I have a mallet finger?

  • The “tell-tale” sign of a mallet finger is the tip of the finger (or thumb) is bent and it will be difficult to straighten it. You will still be able to bend the finger
  • The tip joint of the finger is usually swollen and a bit red. The swelling is sometimes very mild
  • Pain usually accompanies a mallet injury, however there are occasions where patient’s report no pain

How is the condition diagnosed?

The injury is usually diagnosed with a clinical examination by a doctor or occupational therapist. X-rays are not usually required to make a diagnosis, however in certain circumstances X-rays may be needed

What does treatment of a mallet involve?

  • If the injury is treated quickly (within a few days of it occurring), a plastic splint that keeps the finger straight is usually the first line of treatment . There are a variety of splint designs and options available. Your occupational therapist can discuss what splint is the best for you and your lifestyle. The splint needs to be worn 24/7 for 6-8 weeks and for an additional 4-6 weeks after that for sleeping and for particular tasks that may cause excessive force on the healing tendon
  • If the injury is left untreated for a prolonged period of time, if the injury is very severe, or if initial non-surgical intervention has failed, then surgery is usually indicate. The occupational therapy treatment following surgery is usually similar to the non-operative treatment.

How long does a mallet take to heal?

  • With good care,¬† a mallet injury takes between 6 – 8 weeks to heal.
  • It usually takes a bit longer to regain your movement and strength (about 3- 4 months).
  • In some cases full movement of the tip is never achieved, but the functional outcome (ability to use the finger) is usually good to excellent. Attending rehabilitation can help speed up your recovery and and improve the odds of a successful outcome.

What should I do if I suspect I have a mallet finger?

  • You can apply ice to the area for a few minutes immediately after the injury has occurred and several times per day to assist in reducing the swelling.
  • If you suspect you have a mallet injury, it is best to seek medical care as soon as you can. Earlier intervention (treatment) is associated with better outcomes and can prevent the need for surgery
The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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