When the tendons in the hands and fingers become injured, it can affect a person's grip as well as the overall appearance of the hands. Mallet finger is one such tendon injury, and it impacts the end joint of the fingers and thumbs. At The Hand Center at Crawford Plastic Surgery, Dr. Steven Bailey can help patients throughout the greater Atlanta, GA area that experience mallet finger and other kinds of tendon injuries of the fingers and hands.

What Is Mallet Finger?

Also known as baseball finger, mallet finger is a type of deformity in which the final joint of the finger cannot straighten out. This happens when the extensor tendon of the finger becomes damaged. Patients are not able to straighten out their finger because of this tendon injury. Sometimes the injury to the extensor tendon is so serious that it also affects part of the finger bone.

Symptoms of Mallet Finger

Some of the most common symptoms of mallet finger include:

  • Drooping of the final joint of the fingernail
  • Inability to straighten out a finger
  • Finger pain
  • Bruising around a finger
  • Swelling of a finger
  • Blood collecting under the fingernail

Causes of Mallet Finger

The most common cause of mallet finger is serious trauma to the hand and fingers. Typically this involves trauma directly to the tip of a finger or a thumb that causes the finger to bend forcibly. Different types of physical trauma can cause this condition.

Mallet Finger Diagnosis

Proper diagnosis of mallet finger will require a full exam. In addition to discussing the trauma that caused the injury, X-rays will be taken to note the exact nature and extent of the injury. For instance, the X-ray will be able to identify if only the extensor tendon was affected or if part of the finger bone was also injured during the trauma.

Treatment of Mallet Finger

Mallet finger can often be treated without the need for surgery. In these cases, a splint will be used to straighten the finger out and allow the extensor tendon to heal. This splint will need to be worn at all times for up to eight weeks. Once this initial period is over, patients will typically need to wear the splint at night for an additional three to four weeks. Sometimes a hand surgeon may place a temporary pin to help keep the finger extended without the need for a splint.

Surgery is required for those serious cases in which the bone and extensor tendon are affected. In these situations, a tendon graft may be used and the finger may require fusion in extended position to heal. A split will be used to help keep the finger in optimal position for healing.

Recovery after Mallet Finger Treatment

Whether undergoing surgical or non-surgical treatment for mallet finger, it's important for patients to avoid placing major stress on the treated finger. Avoid use of tobacco products and alcoholic beverages to promote quick and problem-free recovery. It's important to attend all follow-up visits at the surgery center so recovery can be properly monitored.

Contact The Hand Center at Crawford Plastic Surgery to learn more about mallet finger and the treatment options available.