Mallet Finger, or hammer finger, is an injury to the tendon that straightens the tip of your finger. A Mallet Finger occurs when the finger tip gets bent forcibly, for example a ball hitting the finger. When this occurs, the tendon experiences tearing. This causes the fingertip to be “detached” from the tendon that is responsible for flexing.
In a Mallet Finger, the tip of the finger or thumb hangs inwards and force has to be applied in order to straighten the bent finger tip..
Even though Mallet Finger is a common sports injury, everyday activities that have a risk of fingers getting jammed, (eg. cleaning, tucking a bed sheet) can also cause Mallet Finger. Older people have a higher risk of getting Mallet Finger as their bones and tendons are more fragile.
What Are The Symptoms Of Mallet Finger?
Generally, there is bruising, swelling and pain at the affected finger. Blood may also be visible at the base of the nail and there is a possibility that the nail becomes detached. It is important to seek immediate attention as there is a risk of bone fracture or infection
Symptoms of Mallet Finger includes:
- A fingertip that bends inwards towards the palm.
- Inability to straighten the bent finger on its own power.
- Pain, bruising and swelling at the finger.
How Can Mallet Finger Be Treated?
At Central Victorian Hand Therapy, we will assess the affected finger in order to help you get the best possible treatment. Treatment for a Mallet Finger is usually non-surgical.
Some of the common treatment we provide for a Mallet Finger are as follows:
- Splint to hold the affected fingertip in place.
- Finger exercises to prevent your affected finger from getting stiff.
If you have a Mallet Finger, you have to wear the splint for a long period of time, usually 6-8 weeks. Our experienced and caring hand therapists will also provide you comprehensive guidance on taking care of the splinted finger, in order to ensure you can recover swiftly and comfortably without further complications.
If left untreated, your affected finger can become stiff or may develop a ‘swan neck deformity’, whereby the joint bends the wrong way. It is important for children who have Mallet Finger to be treated promptly as the cartilage which controls bone development may be affected.
I Have Mallet Finger - What Should I Do?
Mallet Finger is a very common finger injury. With quick and proper treatment, it can heal without surgery. Central Victorian Hand Therapy has a group of professional hand therapists that can help you with this condition.
Please note, patients who want to refer themselves are welcome to do so. You only need a referral if you are funded under Workcover, TAC, The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), or you are on a Management Plan such as the Enhanced Primary Care Plan from your doctor.