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About Mallet Finger

A mallet finger (medically known as extensor tendon injury) is an injury of the extensor digitorum tendon of the fingers. The injury develops as a consequence of hyperreflexion of the tendon. The extensor tendon of the finger is essential for keeping the finger in straight position. In case of mallet finger which causes hyperextension the finger stays in bent position and cannot be fully straighten again.

This is a typical sport injury. It affects people engaged in several sports such as softball, basketball or volleyball. The injury usually develops when the ball is being caught or hit.

It is quite easy to recognize a mallet finger. The distal joint of the finger is bent down and it cannot be straighten. Apart from characteristic appearance of the injured finger patients additionally complain about pain. The pain can be quite intensive at the time of the injury but it generally reduces in time. Since pain eventually withdraws it is no wonder that people choose not to visit their doctors and the injury may stay undiagnosed. This is not a good option. All people who have suffered this type of injury should consult a doctor and receive appropriate treatment.

Therapy for Mallet Finger

The injured finger is immobilized in specific manner. Namely, the affected area is constrained tightly by adjacent unpadded skin dorsally while hinge joint requires a tight volar constriction and the germinal matrix of the nail must be constrained distally. This way the distal interphalangeal joint (the injured one) is splinted in full extension which allows proper healing of the injures tissues. The final result is complete recovery. The injured finger restores its normal appearance, position as well as function. Extension splinting is required for certain period of time depending on doctor's recommendations (from 4-8 weeks).

In case the tip of the finger bends again after the splint is removed the treatment starts from the beginning. Even though splinting is an excellent way to treat this type of injury there is also additional treatment in case of more serious damage to the nearby structures. Mallet finger is an injury that typically affects the tendon itself. However, in some cases the tendon may pull off a small fragment of the finger bone. In case the injured tendon pulls larger fragments of the finger bone patients require surgical correction. Surgery for mallet finger is also performed in case the injury is left untreated for more than 4-6 weeks. This way the doctor corrects the deformity and prevents development of permanent finger joint deformity called "swan neck deformity".

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