Sports Injuries

Mallet Finger Injury

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A mallet finger type of injury occurs in the tendons at the tip of the fingers, causing the finger to become permanently bent. After trauma, an injury may become noticeable if the individual cannot straighten the tip of the finger. Broken fingers, sprains, or certain chronic conditions, such as arthritis, are common causes of a finger injury.

The term mallet finger is used to describe an injury to the extensor tendon found on the back of the finger. The role of the extensor tendon is to straighten the fingers. This tendon functions through various attachments located on the back of each finger and even one past the last knuckle, which allows the last finger joint to straighten. When this particular tendon becomes injured, it fails to extend the last knuckle, and, as a result, the joint remains bent.

Symptoms of a Mallet Finger

At the time of injury, the pain experienced from a mallet finger injury can be pretty significant but may usually subside within a short period. This type of injury can be noticeably obvious to diagnose as the last joint of the finger will be bent down. Although the joint can be straightened with manual help, the individual cannot extend the tip of the finger on their own entirely. Because people with a mallet finger regularly experience minor pain, this type of injury can often be undiagnosed.

Finger splints are used to protect fingers and/or to assist in aligning the joints of the fingers that may have been affected by an injury or a chronic condition like arthritis. Treatment for a mallet finger injury mainly involves using a simple splint. In more severe cases, the tendon might pull off a small fragment of the bone from the finger bone. Surgical treatment might be required to avoid further joint problems if the piece is significant.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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