A mallet finger is an injury to the end of the finger that causes it to bend inwards toward the palm. The end of the finger can’t be straightened because the tendon connecting the muscle to the finger bone is stretched or torn. People with mallet fingers may delay seeking medical attention—even though they are in significant pain—simply because they can still use their hands. They assume the injury isn’t severe and hesitate to get it checked out, which can delay the healing process. You should seek treatment for a mallet finger right away. An excellent place to start would be getting a thorough exam and workup from the orthopedic specialists at the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s your hand. You need to trust where you put it.
Mallet finger, known as drop finger or baseball finger, is a common injury often resulting from unpreventable accidents. This injury can happen to anyone when an unyielding object (like a ball) strikes the tip of a finger or thumb and forces it to bend further than it is intended to go. This causes damage to the extensor tendon. It can affect any of the fingers of the hand, although most mallet finger injuries affect the dominant hand. If a mallet finger is left untreated, the finger can become stiff. Or the finger may develop a swan neck deformity, where the joint bends incorrectly. No matter how hard one tries to straighten it with their hand muscles, it just won’t go. Someone with this condition might be able to push it straight with the other hand but then let go, and the end drops down again.
WHAT IS A MALLET FINGER?
Since a mallet finger is a tendon injury, it may help to have an understanding of tendons. A tendon is like a rope made up of collagen (protein) fibers that attach muscles to bones. This condition involves a tendon called the terminal extensor tendon that straightens the end joint of the finger (called the DIP joint). With a mallet finger, the tendon on the back of the finger (not the palm side) is separated from the muscles it connects.
Three types of injuries commonly lead to this condition:
- The tendon is damaged, but no fractures are present.
- The tendon ruptures with a small fracture caused by the force of the injury.
- The tendon ruptures with a large fracture.