Mallet finger describes an injury to the tip of the finger which impacts the ability of the fingertip to straighten. Mallet finger is common following a direct force causing injury to the tip of the finger, such as a fast-moving ball or even sometimes tucking tight sheets under a mattress. In this injury, the tendon which attaches near the tip of the finger is damaged.
There are 2 types of presentation: one is in people who have pulled off a small piece of the bone near the tip of the finger, the other is in people where the tendon has torn. This results in difficulties straightening the finger causing the appearance of the fingertip sitting in a “drooped” position.
How Can Our Hand Therapists Help?
An untreated mallet finger can result in permanent deformity or loss of hand function and grip strength. ‘Off the shelf’ splints can result in poorer outcomes compared to a custom splint (O’Brien and Bailey, 2011), which is provided by a hand therapist.
The longer treatment is delayed, the harder it is to resolve. Early intervention is essential.
A hand therapist will assess and fabricate an appropriate custom splint that allows for healing and puts your finger in the best possible position. We can analyse and review your X-ray if there is a broken bone / fracture in relation to your mallet finger injury and advise accordingly.
Mallet finger injury is the most common closed tendon injury amongst athletes, with an increased rate amongst high contact ball sports such as basketball, softball, football and rugby (Yeh et al., 2012).
O’Brien, LJ, Bailey, MJ. (2011) Single blind, prospective, randomized controlled trial comparing dorsal aluminium and custom thermoplastic splints to stack splint for acute mallet finger. The Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; 92: 191–198.
Yeh, P. C., & Shin, S. S. (2012). Tendon ruptures: mallet, flexor digitorum profundus. Hand Clinics, 28(3), 425-430. Doi: 10.1016/j.hcl.2012.05.040
Solutions to Try
While these are general examples, our hand therapists will help match solutions best suited to your condition and specific needs.