Mallet Finger

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A common injury to the tendon that straightens the tip of the finger or thumb is called a mallet finger. Sometimes mallet finger is called baseball finger, since the injury can happen when an object such as a ball, impacts the finger and causes the tendon to bend farther than it should. The tendon may be torn or detached from the finger bone.

Mallet finger is especially common in athletes, but it can happen to anyone. Sometimes mallet finger is caused by relatively low-impact activities, such as tucking in sheets on a bed. This condition most often affects the middle, ring and little finger of the dominant hand.

Mallet finger is common, but immediate treatment is necessary to avoid complications later on. Norton Arm & Hand Institute providers offer specialized care, usually within the week and sometimes the same day you call for an appointment.

Mallet Finger Symptoms

Mallet finger is an injury of the tendon that moves the tip of the finger or thumb. When an object strikes the hand, the tendon may be torn or detached from the finger bone. If a bone fragment is also detached, it’s called an avulsion fracture. The finger may droop at the end or feel bruised and swollen. You won’t be able to straighten the end of the finger.

Other signs of mallet finger:

  • A bump just below the nailbed
  • Blood under the fingernail
  • Detached fingernail

Mallet Finger Treatment

Seek medical treatment in the first few days after the injury, especially if there is blood under the nail. If mallet finger is not treated properly, the finger may droop permanently or be in persistent pain.

Nonsurgical treatments include finger splints, elevation and ice therapy. The goal is to keep the finger as straight as possible so the tendon can heal, which takes about eight weeks.

Surgical treatments may be considered if there is a large bone fragment that has broken off in the finger, or if the joint is not properly aligned. The surgeon may use small screws or wires to keep the finger straight.

Expertise in Hand Care

The Norton Arm & Hand Institute specialists have offices in downtown Louisville, St. Matthews and on the Norton Brownsboro Hospital campus, with appointments often available within a week and sometimes the same day. Our fellowship-trained and board-certified physicians have the experience and expertise to know when conservative treatment approaches can help and when surgery will be the only potential source of relief.

Why Choose Norton Arm & Hand Institute

  • The largest group of arm and hand providers in the state, at four locations in Louisville, offers comprehensive treatment — often without surgery.
  • Our providers offer treatments for common conditions such as carpal tunnel, arthritis, ganglion cyst, mallet finger, trigger finger, numbness in the hands and wrists, and fractures of the fingers, hand, wrist and elbow.
  • Norton Arm & Hand Institute specialists include national leaders in treating the unique needs of growing children.
  • Get an appointment within a week and sometimes the same day.
  • Medicare, Medicaid, workers’ compensation and most major commercial insurance plans accepted.
  • Book appointments, get alerts when an earlier appointment becomes available, communicate with your medical provider, refill prescriptions and more through your free Norton MyChart account.

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