Mallet Finger Treatment Guide

Mallet Finger Treatment Guide

Mallet finger refers to the tendon which allows you to straighten your fingers. It's also known as the baseball finger. It is an injury common when you catch an object when the ball hits the tips of the fingers. The ball's impact on the finger causes injury to the tendon of the extensor, causing a mallet finger

Symptoms of mallet finger

The symptoms of a mallet finger can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Some people may have mild symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms that interfere with their daily activities.

Common symptoms of mallet finger include:

  • A drooping fingertip
  • Swelling in the fingertip
  • Pain in the fingertip
  • A bump on the back of the finger joint
  • Difficulty straightening the finger

In severe cases, the fingernail may become detached.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent further complications.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind about mallet finger symptoms:

  • The symptoms of a mallet finger may be delayed. In some cases, the fingertip may only droop a few hours or even days after the injury.
  • The pain and swelling associated with a mallet finger usually improve within a few days. However, it may take several weeks for the fingertip to heal fully.
  • If you have a mallet finger, avoiding activities that stress the injured finger is important. This will help to prevent further damage and promote healing.

Causes of mallet finger

A sudden force causes a mallet finger to the tip of the finger, which can tear or rupture the tendon that straightens the finger joint. This tendon is called the extensor tendon.

The most common cause of a mallet finger is catching a ball with the tip of the finger, which is why it is also known as a "baseball finger." Other common causes of mallet finger include:

  • Hitting a nail with a hammer
  • Getting your finger caught in a door
  • Tripping and falling onto your finger
  • Playing sports such as basketball, volleyball, or football

Mallet finger can also be caused by a medical condition such as arthritis or diabetes. These conditions can weaken the extensor tendon, making it more likely to tear.

If you experience any pain or swelling in your fingertip, you must see a doctor immediately to get a diagnosis and treatment plan. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent further complications.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind about the causes of mallet fingers:

  • Mallet finger is most common in children and young adults. This is because their bones are still growing, and their tendons are more flexible.
  • Mallet finger is more common in athletes than in non-athletes. This is because athletes are more likely to participate in activities that put their fingers at risk.
  • Mallet finger is also more common in people with certain medical conditions, such as arthritis or diabetes.

Mallet Finger Treatment Options

Treatment for injuries to the mallet finger is a mixture of medical and home treatment. Continue reading to learn about the steps to take for immediate treatment for recovery, treatment options, and post-recovery protocol.

Cold Therapy

Mallet fingers can be painful and cause swelling, which a cold pack may aid. Put the cold therapy pack on your finger for 20 minutes after you have injured your finger. The cold can reduce swelling in the soft tissues and help alleviate discomfort. 

Our Top Pick
Double sided hot and cold therapy pad

    SACKSY THYME Cold Therapy Pack for Mallet Finger Pain:

    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.

    However, the pressure generated by the cold packs could cause pain, so put a towel between the cold pack and the tip of your finger. Be careful not to sleep when you have a cold pack in place because the cold pack could cause severe skin injuries.

    Immediate Care

    Following your injury, you'll be in pain, and your injured finger will begin to droop. An avulsion fracture is known if a chunk of bone splits off when the tendon tangles. The first sign that a fractured finger has injured you to the tendon is that it is bleeding under your nail bed. You should stop what you're doing and go to the doctor. In the event of a delay, treatment may result in swan neck deformity. That is a finger deformity in which the joint get's bent incorrectly. While you are waiting to see the doctor, you may be able to initiate these procedures:

    Elevate Your Hand

    The next step following your injury is to raise your hand. It is important to keep the injured hand above the heart's level. This will allow fluid to come back into your hand and reduce swelling. When lying down, place your hands on a towel that has been rolled or a pillow to raise it. The elevation you place on your hand doesn't have to be dramatic; it should be just enough to reduce swelling.

    Over-the-Counter Anti-Inflammatories

    Drugs available over the counter, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, are renowned for having anti-inflammatory effects. These medications can help lessen swelling and pain after the injury. They are generally considered safe; however, bleeding is the only side effect you must be conscious of. If your finger is injured and bleeding, avoid these medicines and speak to your doctor or pharmacist to determine the most suitable alternative.

    Recovery Options

    Once the initial injury phase is over and a doctor has evaluated the injury, it's time to begin your rehabilitation. Here's what you should expect from the recovery of your mallet finger.


    The most commonly used nonsurgical treatment for the finger is a splint. Splinting the finger keeps the fingers straight while the extensor tendon injury heals. Most people must continuously wear the splint for between six and eight weeks. 

    If you remove the splint and the finger begins to droop, it could be necessary to start all splinting procedures. The splint you wear for a prolonged period can be extremely difficult and rough for the skin. Please consult your doctor about ways to shield your skin when it's inside the splint.

    Many types of splints are suitable for mallet fingers. You and your doctor will choose the appropriate one for your needs.

    • Ensure the splint does not rub against your skin or cause pain.
    • Your goal should be to ensure your finger bone is straight enough for complete tendon healing.


    Surgical intervention may be necessary when the joint isn't properly aligned or you require a tendon graft to repair the tendon that has been torn. The orthopedic surgeon you consult with will take an x-ray of your hand to evaluate the severity of your injury. They will search for dislocated fractures and bone fragments. Hand surgery may involve the addition of pins to hold the finger in a straight position until the healing of the tendon. Every procedure has benefits and risks, so talk with your physician to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your needs.

    Post Recovery

    Mallet fingers could take up to 8 weeks or more to recover. Once the tendon has healed, you must practice your hand and fingers to lessen stiffness and restore lost strength. It can be helpful to stretch your fingers to recover the motion lost within your finger. Be gentle as you stop when you notice discomfort.


    When you're able to remove the splint, your physician will recommend that you continue doing hand exercises. In addition, they may guide you to visit an experienced hand therapist trained explicitly in treating hand injuries and ailments.

    Continued Splinting

    If you want to return to your normal routine, it is possible to continue wearing a splint period until your tendon gets healed. It will prevent recurrence and help you have peace of mind. Think about wearing a splint while playing the sport or doing tasks as simple as cleaning your house.

    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. This includes wearing gloves when playing baseball, basketball, or volleyball and wrist guards when rollerblading or skateboarding.
    • Be careful when using tools or equipment that could hit your fingers. When using a hammer, hold the nail securely with a nail holder. When using a saw, keep your fingers away from the blade.
    • Avoid catching balls with the tips of your fingers. Instead, try to catch balls with the palms of your hands.
    • Avoid getting your fingers caught in doors or other objects. Be careful when closing doors and putting your hands in bags or other tight spaces.

    If you have any medical conditions that weaken your tendons, such as arthritis or diabetes, taking precautions to prevent a mallet finger is especially important.

    If you experience pain or swelling in your fingertip, you must see a doctor immediately to get a diagnosis and treatment plan. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent further complications.

    Here are some additional tips for preventing mallet finger:

    • Warm up before participating in sports or activities that put your fingers at risk. This will help to prepare your muscles and tendons for activity.
    • Stretch your fingers regularly. This will help to improve flexibility and reduce your risk of injury.
    • Avoid overuse. If you experience pain in your fingers, stop the activity and rest. Continuing the activity could make the risk of a mallet finger higher.

    Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about preventing a mallet finger.

    Caring for Mallet Finger

    The mallet finger refers to the tendon on the finger. It is a cause of pain, swelling, and drooping. The prompt treatment of cold therapy, splinting, or medical care can speed up recovery. Your finger should feel better after 6-8 weeks, and you can return to exercise and other activities. However, the mallet finger can become a severe injury, so consult your physician before starting any treatment.

    Back to blog

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.