Mallet finger occurs when the extensor tendon, which helps straighten the finger, is damaged or torn. This injury often happens when a forceful blow or trauma causes the fingertip to forcefully bend or jam, leading to tendon disruption.
Mallet finger is commonly caused by the following factors:
• Sports injuries: Mallet finger frequently occurs during ball sports, such as basketball, baseball, or volleyball, when the fingertip is struck forcefully.
• Accidental trauma: Jamming or forcefully bending the fingertip, such as during a fall or while closing a door, can result in mallet finger.
• Lacerations: Deep cuts or lacerations to the extensor tendon in the finger can lead to tendon damage and mallet finger.
The typical symptoms of mallet finger include:
• Inability to fully straighten the fingertip without assistance.
• A bent or drooping appearance of the fingertip.
• Pain and swelling at the base of the affected finger.
• Tenderness and bruising around the injured area.
Healthcare professionals use various methods to diagnose mallet finger, including:
• Physical examination: A thorough examination of the finger, assessing range of motion, and identifying any deformities or signs of tendon disruption.
• X-rays: X-rays may be taken to evaluate the extent of the injury, including any fractures or joint involvement.
The treatment approach for mallet finger depends on the severity of the injury. Common treatment options include:
• Splinting or bracing: Most mallet finger injuries can be treated non-surgically by splinting or bracing the fingertip in a straight position for several weeks to allow the tendon to heal.
• Ice and elevation: Applying ice packs and elevating the hand can help reduce swelling and pain.
• Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be recommended to manage pain and inflammation.
• Surgery: In severe cases or when non-surgical treatments fail, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair the damaged tendon or realign the finger.
Exercises play a crucial role in the rehabilitation of mallet finger. However, it is important to consult a healthcare professional or a qualified hand therapist before attempting any exercises. Some useful exercises may include:
• Passive extension exercises: Gently assist in straightening the fingertip using the opposite hand or with the help of a splint.
• Active extension exercises: Gradually work on independently extending the fingertip against resistance, starting with light resistance and progressing as advised by a therapist.
• Grip strengthening exercises: Engage in exercises that target grip strength, such as squeezing a stress ball or using therapeutic putty.