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Mallet Finger Treatment in Long Island and NYC

Mallet finger, also known as “baseball finger,” is the result of a tendon injury that prevents a finger or thumb tip from extending on its own. This common injury should be promptly addressed by a hand expert to ensure that it heals properly and finger function is not compromised.

At The Institute for Hand Surgery at Long Island Plastic Surgical Group (LIPSG), our experienced hand specialists can diagnose mallet finger and provide the proper treatment to help you maintain function in your injured finger or thumb.

What is Mallet Finger?

Mallet finger is an injury that occurs when the tendon at the back of a finger or thumb (the extensor tendon) is torn at the tip of the digit. Extensor tendons are located at the top of the hand and keep the fingers straight. When the tip of a finger or thumb is struck by an unyielding object, the tendon is damaged, torn, or bends further than it should. This results in a finger or thumb that does not straighten on its own.

In some cases of mallet finger injuries, the extensor tendon may be pulled away from the point where it attaches to the finger. Sometimes, a small piece of bone pulls away with the tendon. This is called an avulsion injury.1

Causes of Mallet Finger

Mallet finger is often referred to as “baseball finger,” as this injury commonly happens when a ball strikes the fingertip or thumb. In truth, any impact to the fingertip or tip of the thumb can cause mallet finger, as can forceful bending of the fingertip.

Mallet Finger Symptoms

Many people with mallet finger think of their finger as “jammed.” The tip of the finger droops, and does not straighten on its own. Additional symptoms of mallet finger may include:

Diagnosis of Mallet Finger

It is important to seek prompt attention from a hand expert if you believe you have a mallet finger. If you notice that there is blood under the nail or the nail of the finger has become attached, it is especially important to have the injury examined. This could be a sign of a nail bed injury or compound fracture that could compromise the function of that finger and cause lasting pain.

The first step in diagnosing mallet finger is a physical examination. The doctor will hold the injured finger and ask you to straighten it, or push the finger into a straight position and observe whether it can remain there. An X-ray may also be performed to make sure the joint of the finger is properly aligned and determine whether any pieces of bone have pulled away with the tendon.

Nonsurgical Treatment for Mallet Finger

At The Institute for Hand Surgery at Long Island Plastic Surgical Group (LIPSG), it is our policy to recommend the most conservative treatment that will be effective for mallet finger. aaTypically, this involves splinting to keep the finger straight so that the tendon heals properly. At first, the splint should be worn constantly. After 6-8 weeks, the splint may be worn less frequently.

Once a mallet finger has healed, we will show you some simple exercises that will help you retain motion at the tip of the injured finger. You may still notice a slight droop to the fingertip or a bump at the back of the finger, but this should not cause pain or prevent you from performing normal activities.

Surgical Treatment for Mallet Finger

In most cases, splinting and physical therapy are the only treatment necessary for mallet finger. However, if the joint becomes misaligned or if large bone fragments have broken off with the injury, surgery may be necessary. Mallet finger surgery may involve stabilizing the finger with wires or small screws, repairing or replacing the damaged tendon, or fusing an injured finger joint to keep it straight.

Contact The Institute for Hand Surgery

If you have suffered a painful mallet finger injury, it is important that you seek attention from a hand expert who can help you heal properly. To schedule a consultation at The Institute for Hand Surgery at Long Island Plastic Surgical Group (LIPSG), please contact us today.

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