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Mallet Finger


This condition is an injury to the end of the extensor tendon that straightens the finger’s end joint, called the DIP joint. It results in drooping of the fingertip, and prevents the finger from being straightened.


Mallet Finger

Causes & Triggers

This condition is caused by an injury to the extensor tendon at the DIP joint. It can be caused by a laceration to the back of the finger, but most commonly results from direct trauma, often during sports when a ball strikes the extended finger. This can violently flex the tip of the finger, rupturing the extensor tendon. In some cases the tendon is pulled away from the bone, breaking a piece of bone from the tendon’s attachment point. This type of injury is called a bony mallet finger.

  • Accident
  • Forceful blow
  • Hard hit
  • Sports injury

Signs & Symptoms

The main symptom of this condition is a downward turning of the tip of a finger and an inability to straighten the affected finger. Other symptoms, which are most commonly associated with bony mallet finger, may include pain, swelling or tenderness.

  • Apparent deformity
  • Bruising
  • Detached nail bed
  • Drooping fingertip
  • Inability to straighten finger
  • Pain
  • Swelling

Tips & Treatment

Mallet finger is commonly treated by placing the affected finger in a splint for at least eight to twelve weeks. If the bone fragment is very large or the joint is displaced, surgery may be recommended.

  • Mallet finger results from damage to the finger’s extensor tendon.
  • Seek immediate medical attention (within 7 days of injury), especially in children.
  • X-rays and splinting may be required.
  • Most mallet finger injuries do not require surgical intervention.
  • Surgery may be required if the mallet finger also shows signs of fracture.
  • Consult an orthopedic hand specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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