Mallet Finger Overview

Mallet Finger Overview

Mallet's finger is when the tendon that straightens your finger gets damaged and deforms the finger. If you suffer from a mallet finger, there is a lot of pain, but some people experience no discomfort. Treatments for mallet fingers may be as easy as using a splint or as extensive as surgery. This injury guide will discover how to recognize mallet fingers and various treatment options.

What is Mallet Finger?

Also referred to as "baseball finger," the condition is described as a deformity within the finger that stops you from straightening the tip of your finger (known in the DIP joint, also known as the distal joint, or DIP joint). As a result, the tendon responsible for straightening the tip of the finger gets damaged, which causes the finger's tip joint to lie in an unbending position (flexion).

The extensor tendons are in charge of straightening fingers as well as thumbs. When a mallet injures a finger, the force of the blow to the point of the finger can cause the tendons to break. The tendon can tear or pull, causing lots of pain.

The dominant hand's middle three fingers are most susceptible to injuries to the mallet, typically caused by sports or other physical actions.

Mallet Finger vs. Trigger Finger

They frequently need clarification because they both require trouble straightening their fingers. Let's take a look at the differences between them:

Trigger Finger

The cause is inflammation of the sheaths of the flexors' tendons that bend fingers, which can cause entrapment or catching sensation. The entire finger could become "stuck" in the bent position. Instead, it is often forced into a wide opening with a click.

Mallet Finger

The finger is struck by an object, which causes injury to the tendon that extends the fingers. The finger's tip is still flexible but cannot develop fully at the point (known as the distal phalanx).

What is the difference between the swan neck deformity? The finger affected is damaged connective tissue on the proximal interphalangeal joints (PIP), also known as the middle joint. It results in an extension that rests the joint.

Mallet Finger Causes

Mallet fingers can be caused by injuries to the tendon of the extensor, which is usually the result of severe impact. The most frequent mallet finger causes are:

Athletic Injury

Most likely, the most prevalent cause of a mallet finger deformity is that any sport involving the ball can put the player at risk of injury. Football, basketball, and volleyball players are often afflicted with mallet fingers.

Work Injury

Physical labor, usually as a result of construction work or warehouse work, could result in a mallet finger injury. In addition, a crushing injury sustained during work can seriously damage the finger, making recovery problematic.

Mallet Finger Classification

Four types of injuries could be experienced.

    • It is a damaged tendon with no bone injury or open wound.
    • The fracture is small (known as an Avulsion fracture) and a ruptured tendon caused by the injury caused by an open wound.
    • Deep wound that is characterized by significant tendon damage or bone fragments (pieces made of bone)
    • The fracture is a large and ruptured tendon, bony mallet fingers, or mallet fracture. It results in a deformity of the finger.

Mallet Finger Symptoms

The most common symptoms associated with mallet finger include :

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • The inability to straighten the tip of the fingers (finger slide) in the absence of assistance from the other hand

.While the condition is typically easy to treat, there are a few troubling signs to watch out for. They are:

  • The nail is removed from the nail bed
  • Blood under the nail
  • Swollen or painful, it can be severe.
  • The suspicion of a bone fracture of the finger

Mallet Finger Treatment

The treatment for a mallet finger depends on the severity of the injury. Mild cases may only require splinting for a few weeks. More severe cases may require surgery to repair the torn tendon.

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy can be a helpful adjunct treatment for mallet fingers. It can help to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.

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    The SACKSY THYME Cold Therapy pack has been specifically designed to provide targeted relief for hand injuries, including mallet finger. It is made with high-quality materials that are both durable and comfortable to wear, so you can use it for extended periods without discomfort. The pack is easy to use, simply place it in the freezer for a few hours and then apply it directly to the injured area.

    To apply cold therapy to your mallet finger, follow these steps:

    1. Wrap the cold pack in a thin towel.
    2. Apply the cold pack to the affected finger for 20 minutes daily.
    3. Be sure to take a break every 20 minutes to avoid damaging your skin.

    You can also use a cold compress to apply cold therapy to your mallet finger. Soak a washcloth in cold water to make a cold compress and then wring it out. Apply the cold compress to the affected finger for 20 minutes, several times daily.

    Cold therapy is safe for most people, but it is important to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns before using it.

    Here are some additional tips for using cold therapy for mallet finger:

    • Avoid applying cold pack directly to your skin. This can cause an ice burn.
    • Do not use cold therapy for diabetes, circulatory problems, or other medical conditions.
    • If you experience any numbness or tingling, stop using cold therapy.
    • Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about using cold therapy.

    Please note that cold therapy is not a substitute for medical care. If you have a mallet finger, seeing a doctor is important to get a diagnosis and treatment plan.


    Splinting is the most common treatment for mallet finger. The splint will keep the finger joint straight and allow the tendon to heal. You will need to wear the splint for several weeks, depending on the severity of your injury.

    Two types of splints are commonly used for mallet fingers:

    • Dorsal splint: This splint is worn on the back of the finger. It covers the finger joint and extends to the tip of the finger.
    • Volar splint: This type of splint is worn on the palm side of the finger. It covers the finger joint and extends to the base of the finger.

    Your doctor will decide which type of splint is right for you. They will also show you how to put on and remove the splint and keep it clean.


    Surgery is usually only necessary in severe cases of mallet finger, such as when the tendon is completely torn or when a large bone fragment is attached to the tendon.

    The most common type of surgery for a mallet finger is called a tendon repair. During this surgery, the doctor will sew the torn tendon back together. Sometimes, the doctor may also need to repair a bone fracture.

    After surgery, you must wear a splint for several weeks to allow the tendon to heal. You will also need to do physical therapy exercises to regain the range of motion in your finger.

    Other treatments

    In addition to splinting and surgery, there are a few other treatments that may be used for mallet finger, such as:

    • Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are medications that can reduce inflammation. They may be injected into the finger joint to help reduce pain and swelling.
    • Physical therapy: Physical therapy exercises can help to improve the range of motion and strength of the injured finger.
    • Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy can help you learn how to do everyday activities with your injured finger.

    If you have any questions or concerns about the treatment for a mallet finger, talk to your doctor.

    Mallet Finger Diagnosis

    Mallet finger can usually be diagnosed based on a physical exam. Your doctor will look for the characteristic drooping fingertip and swelling. They may also ask you to perform certain movements to test the range of motion in your finger.

    Sometimes, your doctor may order an X-ray to rule out other injuries, such as fractures.

    Preventing Mallet Finger

    There are a few things you can do to prevent mallet finger, such as:

    • Wear protective gear when participating in sports or activities that put your fingers at risk.
    • Be careful when using tools or equipment that could hit your fingers.
    • Avoid catching balls with the tips of your fingers.
    • Avoid getting your fingers caught in doors or other objects.

    When to See a Doctor

    Don't delay your appointment with your doctor because the symptoms appear slight. If you notice any signs of illness, you should visit your physician. They'll decide whether you require X-rays and whether or not they will refer the patient to an orthopedic surgeon or hand surgeon in sports medicine. Mallet finger that is chronic and remains untreated with the aid of a splint for four to six weeks is likely to need surgery.   

    Mallet Finger Recovery

    The average non-surgical Mallet finger healing time is between 4 and six weeks if you always wear your splint. If you do not wear it as recommended or are delayed in seeking treatment, the tendon injury recovery time could be delayed.

    The mallet finger's healing rate is high. Most patients recover by splinting alone; however, those who don't find treatment through surgery.

    • How to Know When Mallet Finger Is Healed?
    • The injured finger will likely heal after four weeks in the case of an insignificant injury and six weeks in the case of a tiny fracture. However, if you notice swelling after removing the splint, or if the finger is in a deformity, it's injured and may need another imaging.
    • After the pain is gone and your finger is back to its normal resting place (not bent), it's fully healed and ready to go.

    Healing Your Mallet Finger is Effortless

    The correct repair for a mallet's finger does not have to be complicated. If you seek help from the doctor as soon as possible, the injury will heal quickly without any issues.

    Rest it at home with a Cold therapy pack when an injury occurs until you can get to a doctor. They'll typically prescribe you painkillers and provide you with a splint. Splinting is the only thing you require to treat most mallet finger cases. When your finger heals, it can be more fragile than before and needs a quick session of exercises supervised by a physical therapist. Be careful when you play sports or engage in other activities that may cause another injury.

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