When the tendon that’s responsible for straightening the finger becomes damaged, the finger becomes deformed and maintains a drooping tip. This can be painful at first, but if the tendon isn’t cut, is an injury that doesn’t compromise using the hand or moving other fingers.
What is Mallet Finger?
This type of injury happens when a heavy object strikes the tip of the finger and the force bends the finger permanently. The force of the incident can also pull away some of the bone with the tendon to the point that the finger or thumb cannot be straightened.
The most noticeable sign of mallet finger is a fingertip that droops permanently. Swelling and bruising can occur around the injured finger and blood may collect beneath the nail. If there is a fracture, it can be impossible to straighten the tip and this may be accompanied by pain.
Mallet Finger Treatment Options
Dr. Kilaru will need to take x-rays to determine the extent of the injury and see exactly where the bone has pulled away. In most cases, this type of injury can be treated without surgery. A splint or cast is usually the recommended treatment for mallet finger, and this is ideally placed within a week of the injury.
Surgical treatment is only needed when the injuries have resulted in bone fractures and large fragments of bone are visible in x-rays. Dr. Kilaru can perform surgery that involves using pins or small screws to secure the fragments of bone in place. This is followed by a splint to help with healing. In some cases, tightening the stretched tendon using tendon grafts is needed to treat the damaged tendon.
What to Expect with Mallet Finger Treatment
The splint must be worn full-time for at least eight weeks and then for an additional four weeks less frequently. Dr. Kilaru may recommend a hand therapist after the splint is removed to help regain motion in the fingertip and ensure proper functioning of the entire hand and fingers. Regular exercises can help increase range of motion and restore full functioning of the injured hand after surgery.
If you have mallet finger or want to learn more about hand surgery, schedule a consultation with Dr. Kilaru.