Special thanks to star physical therapist Antara Quiñones for providing this write up on a recent article from the Journal of Hand Surgery.
Mallet finger typically occurs with “jamming your finger”, like hitting a basketball with a straight finger, forcing it to bend when not expected. If the tendon that attaches near the base of your fingernail is unable to withstand this sudden force, it “avulses” or rips out of the bone creating a droopy fingertip. Unless this tendon is reattached somehow, you will never be able to straighten the tip of your finger again. Typically, this does not interfere with your ability to do things.
People seek treatment because they are more concerned about how their finger looks. A small percentage of mallet finger injuries can progress to a “swan neck deformity” where the tip of your finger is stuck pointing down and the middle knuckle is hyperextended in the opposite direction. This does interfere with finger function and treatment is typically necessary.
Treatment options for mallet finger vary depending on the length of time after injury that the droopy finger shows up (its not always immediate). Treatment is deemed successful if there is little or no “extensor tendon lag,” meaning you are able to straighten your finger fully.
The most conservative treatment option is long term splinting. This involves wearing a specially made finger brace that holds your finger in a neutral position in hopes that the tendon will reattach via scar tissue. This can be anywhere from 6 to 14 weeks. Most patients see acceptable success with splinting alone–their finger tip may be not quite straight but less noticeably bent–and do not seek further treatment.
Surgery is the next step if splinting does not work. However, recent review of the literature suggests that despite many different applications of surgical procedures, results are relatively no better than splinting alone.
Authors of this literature review concluded that splinting should be the primary treatment for a mallet finger, especially if it has been longer than 4 weeks since the injury. Their reasoning being that splinting is just as effective as surgery, a mallet finger typically does not interfere with day to day life, and is corrected typically for aesthetic purposes only.
Nina Suh, MD, Scott W. Wolfe, MD. Soft Tissue Mallet Finger Injuries With Delayed Treatment. In Journal of Hand Surgery. September, 2013. Vol 38A. Pp. 1803-1805.
For more information on this topic visit our clinic resource pages by clicking here.
Brent Dodge is the founding owner of Alpine Physical Therapy and is a board certified orthopedic specialist. He holds additional certifications in Functional Dry Needling, Manual Physical Therapy, and Strength and Conditioning.
All Alpine Physical Therapy Alpine Soccer Team Alpine Softball Alzheimer's Disease American Cancer Society Ana Soulia Angela Listug Vap Angela Listug-Vap Ankle Sprains Antara Quinones Aquatics Audrey Elias Back Pain Balance Biking Boston Marathon Brace Hayden Brent Dodge Cancer CDC Certified Chiropractic Climbing Concussion CoreAlign Core Studio Crossfit Dance Medicine Dennis McCrea Diabetes Diane Cummins Diva Day Dr. Liz Walker Eating Emily Jones Ergonomics Events Excercises Fall Prevention Fall Prevention Awareness Day Fishing Fitness Fit To Fight Foot Pain Functional Dry Needling Gary Gales Golf Good Food Store Headaches Health Her Health Hiking Hip Pain Jamie Terry Jeannette Kittredge Jessica Kehoe Jonathan Hoffman's Foundation Training Josie Sweeney Kayla Johnson Kerri Houck Knee Pain Kristi Moore Leah Versteegen Lindsy Campbell Linsey Olson Low Back Pain LYMPHEDEMA Mary Mischke Matt Schweitzer MISA Missoula Marathon Missoula's Choice Moms Montana Geriatric Society Morgan York Singer Morgan York-Singer MT Alpha Cycling National Cancer Institute National Falls Awareness Neck Pain Oncology Rehab Program Pain Pamela Pack Peak Health & Wellness Center Peak Triathlon Pelvic Pain Physical Therapy Physical Therapy (Journal) Pilates Primal Practice Relay For Life Resources Roger Sperry Ron Clijsen Ron Veilleux Runner's Edge Running Samantha Glaes Sam Schmidt Sarah McMillan Shoulder Pain Sitting Skiing Skye Folsom Soccer Spine Magazine Spine Rehab Sports STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents Tai Chi Tamarack Brewing Company Tara Mund The Runner's Clinic Tips Travis Dye Ultrasound Imaging University Of Montana Urinary Incontinence Walking Wellness Wellness Program Westside Dance Physical Therapy Who Is Perfect? Women's Health
Connect with us
Get to know us better. Our social media platforms are a great way to learn about our staff, upcoming events, newest technology, patient stories, and more.
who we are
Leading innovation in health and wellness for our community, delivering compassionate care, and inspiring through education.
Know what’s new. Plus, get a free consultation!
Copyright © 2017 Alpine Physical Therapy • All Rights Reserved
Site by Aesir Consulting
Site by Aesir Consulting