mallet fingerMallet finger is a medical condition caused by a blunt force striking the tip of the thumb or other finger with enough force to cause the affected finger to bend more than it normally would.  Known as “baseball finger” because ball catchers are susceptible to this type of injury, it can affect anyone who happens to incur enough trauma to affect the tendon on the top of each finger.  Learn more about this particular medical issue, as well as solutions that can help bring about healing.

Finger Anatomy

On the top of each finger resides a tendon called an extensor tendon.  This particular tendon helps individuals straighten their fingertips beyond the last knuckle on each finger.  Sometimes an individual will injure this tendon to the point where they cannot straighten their fingertip at all, instead leaving it to droop unless they use assistance from their other hand in order to straighten it.

Mallet Finger Symptoms

Symptoms for this medical condition include:  bruising, swelling and pain of the affected finger.  As mentioned previously, an individual with mallet finger will be unable to straighten the tip of their finger without assistance.  In more serious cases, blood may appear underneath the nail bed, perhaps signaling the finger bone is broken as well.

Resolving Mallet Finger

If a person encounters this type of injury, the first thing they should do is discontinue their activity, elevate their hand and apply ice.  If they do see blood in the nail bed, they should seek immediate medical attention in order to reduce the risk of infection and evaluate whether or not they have a broken bone.  Even if the bone is not broken, it is advisable to seek medical attention in order to avoid chronic stiffness and deformity in the affected fingertip. After an X-ray to ensure that no bones are broken, an orthopaedic hand specialist will most likely apply a splint that will help keep the injured finger straight.  Wearing a splint allows the finger tendon to rest and heal. In rare cases, an orthopaedic hand specialist might recommend orthopaedic surgery, either to repair a broken bone and/or graft a tendon replacement, or fuse the joint altogether.

If you would like to know more about mallet finger, please contact us at Hampton Roads Orthopaedics Spine & Sports Medicine.