Mallet finger

Mallet finger
July 29, 2017

Mallet finger is a condition that is caused when the extensor tendon sustain injury but at the end joint in the fingers. Suppose you are tucking in a bed-sheet and your fingertip gets bent, you may be trying to catch a ball and it hits your fingertip instead. Before you even realize it, you may have been sustained an injury that is clinically termed as Mallet finger or Baseball finger.” Explains Dr. Gupta fervently.

The patient should consult our medical team >>click here for appointment

Dr. Gupta who has been in the field of upper extremity for 25 years now and performed more than 6000 surgeries asserts, “If mallet finger is not treated effectively it may result in a permanent deformity of the injured fingertip and the patient may never overcome the stiffness in it. Not just this, it is also essential that it is treated effectively else the functional recovery may be partial. Techniques may vary from holding the broken pieces of bones with pins to tendon graft to joint fusion. It is a very common condition that more or less targets the sport players majorly. Sometimes we are approached by children with Mallet finger condition. When children suffer from it we evaluate it with precision and carefully treat the cartilage that is essential for the bone growth so that the fingers of the children do not become deformed or stunted in growth”.
“Intense pain, swelling and numbness in the injured finger digit are the foremost signs of Mallet finger with the most prevalent being the downward droop of the injured fingertip towards the palm and inability to straighten it without help. When patients seek our medical advice we perform a mallet finger test on the patient that is a physical test and then to deduce the severity we run an x-ray on the injured finger.”

The patient should consult our medical team >>click here for appointment

Presently designated as the head of hand and shoulder department at Max Healthcare, Dr. Gupta is acclaimed for his precision in diagnosis and his adoption of treatment technique and winding up his explanations about Mallet finger he says, “Lastly I would just say that patients should not take extreme stress regarding this condition but still be precautious after having been affected by it. It may take a few weeks or months before you may recover your functional movements. The prerequisite though is not removing the splint until recommended by us as it enables healing and supports the injured finger or thumb.

FAQ – Mallet Finger

Mallet finger is a condition in which the finger having sustained injury bends at the finger tip towards the palm and does not straighten without help. It is also sometimes referred to as Baseball finger.
Fingers straighten with the help of tendons. Tendons are thin connecting tissues between the muscles and the bones. It is the muscles that extend from the forearms and passing through the wrist as tendons to become attached to the bones of the fingers that help them to straighten or bend. The tendons either run on the palm side of the hand referred to as Flexor Tendons and enable bending or run on the back side of the hand known as Extensor Tendons that enable straightening of the finger and thumb digits.
Depending on the severity of the injury, the damage incurred may be of three types-
  • The tendon may get damaged without any fracture or tear
  • The tendon may rupture with a mild fracture or tear
  • The tendon may rupture with a severe fracture or forcible tear
Signs that mark the presence of Mallet finger are-
  • Intense pain in the injured finger
  • Swelling in the outermost joint of the injured finger / thumb
  • Numbness in the injured finger / thumb
  • Inability in straightening the injured finger / thumb
  • Difficulty in moving the injured finger / thumb without help
  • Downward droop in the injured finger/thumb
Mallet finger is usually a result of an injury to the end of the fingers that damage the extensor tendons. The injury may be caused because of –
  • Sports injuries for e.g. - While trying to catch a ball that might get missed and hit the finger instead causing the tendon to break
  • Any other blow/action that is so forceful that it results in over-bending the end joint of a finger
  • Any mild forceful action such as tucking in a bed-sheet can also result in Mallet finger
Mallet finger is ascertained or clinically diagnosed by-
  • Mallet finger test in which the patients are asked to straighten the injured finger by themselves
  • The patient is asked to run an X-ray of the injury to clearly mark its severity
If the tendon has not resulted in a tear then Mallet finger should heal within 4 to 6 weeks but the splint should not be removed. In cases where the tendon has been torn out from the bone, the injury is severe and should take 6 to 8 weeks to heal with another 3 to 4 weeks of essential splinting, though it actually takes several months before the finger recovers its functions.
Mallet finger treatment depends on the severity of the damage and though most cases of Mallet finger are treated with the splinting technique where the patient’s injured finger is splinted for a few weeks to enable healing it cannot be adopted as an effective technique in cases where the damage is intense. For severe cases such as a fracture or tear, the pieces of broken bones are held together surgically with pins until the injury heals and for severe damage in the tendons the surgical treatment that is adopted is tendon grafting (a healthy and functional tendon tissue is taken out from another part of the body and grafted) or sometimes even by fusing the joints.
Posted in Condition & Treatments by admin